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Limitation of serological testing for Lyme borreliosis: evaluation of ELISA and western blot in comparison with PCR and culture methods.

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The aim of the study was to evaluate a one-step procedure using an ELISA test of high specificity and a two-step procedure using immunoblot as a confirmation test, and to compare the results of serological testing with detection of bacterial DNA and living spirochetes. Sera, synovial (SF) and cerebro-spinal fluids (CSF) were obtained from 90 patients with clinical symptoms of
Lyme borreliosis. Serum samples were tested with recombinant ELISA and Western blot assay. Citrated blood, cerebrospinal and synovial fluids samples were cultured in cell line and tested by PCR to detect spirochetes. No correlation was found between levels of specific B. burgdorferi antibodies detected with a recombinant antigen ELISA and the number of protein fractions developed with these antibodies by immunoblot. Moreover,
Lyme borreliosis patients who have live spirochetes in body fluids have low or negative levels of borrelial antibodies in their sera. This indicates that an efficient diagnosis of
Lyme borreliosis has to be based on a combination of various techniques such as serology, PCR and culture, not solely on serology.

Wien Klin Wochenschr. 2002 Jul 31;114(13-14):601-5. Comparative Study; Evaluation Studies

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