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The three skin disorders of
Lyme borreliosis in Europe include erythema migrans, an acute, self-limited lesion; borrelial lymphocytoma, a subacute lesion; and acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans, a chronic lesion. Using quantitative reverse transcription-PCR, we determined mRNA expression of selected chemokines, cytokines, and leukocyte markers in skin samples from 100 patients with erythema migrans, borrelial lymphocytoma, or acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans and from 25 control subjects. Chemokine patterns in lesional skin in each of the three skin disorders included low but significant mRNA levels of the neutrophil chemoattractant CXCL1 and the dendritic cell chemoattractant CCL20 and intermediate levels of the macrophage chemoattractant CCL2. Erythema migrans and particularly acrodermatitis lesions had high mRNA expression of the T-cell-active chemokines CXCL9 and CXCL10 and low levels of the B-cell-active chemokine CXCL13, whereas lymphocytoma lesions had high levels of CXCL13 and lower levels of CXCL9 and CXCL10. This pattern of chemokine expression was consistent with leukocyte marker mRNA in lesional skin. Moreover, using immunohistologic methods, CD3(+) T cells and CXCL9 were visualized in erythema migrans and acrodermatitis lesions, and CD20(+) B cells and CXCL13 were seen in lymphocytoma lesions. Thus, erythema migrans and acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans have high levels of the T-cell-active chemokines CXCL9 and CXCL10, whereas borrelial lymphocytoma has high levels of the B-cell-active chemokine CXCL13.