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In a study of cytokine production ex vivo by Borrelia burgdorferi-stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 27 patients with culture-positive erythema migrans, production of inflammatory cytokines predominated, particularly gamma interferon and, to a lesser degree, tumor necrosis factor alpha. In contrast, with the exception of interleukin-13, anti-inflammatory cytokine production was negligible. Thus, B. burgdorferi antigens in early
Lyme disease often induce a strong inflammatory response.