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Heterogeneity of Borrelia burgdorferi: etiopathogenetic relevance and clinical implications.

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Of the ten different species of Borrelia (B.) burgdorferi sensu lato which have been characterized to date, only B. burgdorferi sensu stricto, B. garinii and B. afzelii have been identified as pathogenic in humans. It was suggested that different species possess different organotropisms and may preferentially cause distinct clinical manifestations of
Lyme disease. Molecular analyses revealed a strong association of B. afzelii with the late cutaneous manifestation acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans, whereas B. garinii was predominantly identified in clinical samples from patients with neuroborreliosis. PCR-based analyses of samples from European patients with
Lyme arthritis had given controversial results, but B. burgdorferi sensu stricto appears to be the major pathogen. The identity of the infecting species seems to be a major determinant in the pathogenesis of
Lyme arthritis, although its complex immunopathological background and its clinical heterogeneity clearly indicate concomitant factors. Thus, characterization of the infecting organism at the species level on the one hand and linkage of clinical data with pathogenetically relevant immune parameters on the other, shall lead to a more precise understanding of the pathogenesis and the individual clinical course of
Lyme borrelioses.

Z Rheumatol. 2003 Apr;62(2):148-54. English Abstract; Review

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