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It has been proposed that outer surface protein A (OspA) of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto contains a T helper 1 (Th1) cell epitope that could play a role in an autoimmune response to hLFA1.
We used two peptides, hLFAalphaL (aa326-345) and Borrelia burgdorferi OspAB31 (aa164-183), as stimulating antigens to measure Th1 proinflammatory IFNgamma cytokine production in peripheral blood of
Lyme disease patients presenting with EM without history of arthritis, as well as in peripheral blood of healthy individuals.
IFNgamma responses to hLFA1 peptide were observed in 11 of 19
Lyme disease patients and in 3 of 15 healthy controls. In contrast, only 2 of 19 of the
Lyme disease patients and none of the controls responded to the homologous OspAB31 peptide.
IFNgamma was produced in response to stimulation with peptide hLFAalphaL (aa326-345) in peripheral blood of 58% of patients with early
Lyme disease without signs of arthritis, as well as in peripheral blood of 20% of healthy individuals, but not in response to stimulation with the homologous OspAB31 (aa164-183) peptide (p < 0.05). Our results suggest that reactivity to the hLFA1 peptide in peripheral blood may be the result of T cell degeneracy.