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We determined cellular and humoral immune responses to Borrelia burgdorferi lysate and to recombinant flagellin (FlaB), OspC, and OspA in acute- and convalescent-phase samples from 39 culture-positive patients with erythema migrans and in 20 healthy control subjects. During the acute illness, a median of 4 days after the onset of erythema migrans, 51% of the patients had proliferative cellular responses and 72% had antibody responses to at least one of the borrelial antigens tested. During convalescence, at the conclusion of antibiotic therapy, 64% of the patients had proliferative cellular reactivity and 95% had antibody reactivity with at least one of the spirochetal antigens tested. In both acute- and convalescent-phase samples, cellular immune responses were found as frequently to OspA as to OspC and FlaB. Although antibody responses were also frequently seen to OspC and FlaB, only a few patients had marginal antibody reactivity with OspA. The percentage of patients with proliferative responses was similar in those with clinical evidence of localized or disseminated infection, whereas humoral reactivity was found more often in those with disseminated
disease. We conclude that cellular and humoral responses to B. burgdorferi antigens are often found among patients with early
Lyme disease. In contrast with the other antigens tested, cellular but not humoral reactivity was often found with OspA.