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Confirmation of Borrelia burgdorferi spirochetes by polymerase chain reaction in placentas of women with reactive serology for Lyme antibodies.

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Abstract

The purpose of our study was to determine whether Borrelia burgdorferi spirochetes were present in placentas of asymptomatic women with reactive
Lyme serology using a silver stain, and to confirm the identity of the spirochetes by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Sixty placentas of asymptomatic women with ELISA-positive or-equivocal serology for
Lyme antibodies during pregnancy were examined for spirochetes using a silver stain. The results of the ELISA serology were confirmed by Western blot analysis. PCR amplification for B. burgdorferi was performed on placentas identified to have spirochetes and on a group of placentas negative for spirochetes. Spirochetes were identified by silver staining in 3 (5%) of the 60 placentas. PCR confirmed B. burgdorferi nucleotide sequences in 2 of the placentas. The 5 women had equivocal
Lyme ELISA and negative syphilis serology. The results of the Western blot analysis were negative in 2 cases and indeterminate in 1 case. Six controls were negative for spirochetes by silver staining and PCR. A normal perinatal outcome was observed in all cases. Spirochetes identified in placental tissue of pregnancies with reactive
Lyme serology were confirmed by PCR to be B. burgdorferi. There was no relationship between the presence of placental spirochetes and the results of
Lyme serology or the pregnancy outcome.

Gynecol Obstet Invest. 1996;41(4):240-3. Research Support, U.S. Gov’t, P.H.S.

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