A possible association of Borrelia burgdorferi with localized scleroderma is currently the focus of intense research and discussion. Skin biopsies from 30 patients with localized scleroderma (28 of the plaque type/morphea; two linear scleroderma) were analyzed for the presence of Borrelia burgdorferi using three different polymerase chain reaction systems for amplification of segments of borrelial genes. Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded biopsies of 14 patients and fresh-frozen, cryo-conserved biopsies of 16 patients with localized scleroderma were obtained. Lesions of all patients showed clear signs of scleroderma and
disease progression at the time of biopsy. Fresh-frozen as well as formalin-fixed biopsies from patients with erythema migrans or acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans were used as positive controls. With all three polymerase chain reaction systems, borrelial DNA was detected in none of the 30 specimens of localized scleroderma. In contrast, with one polymerase chain reaction system, Borrelia burgdorferi-specific DNA was found in 24 of 27 frozen biopsies from patients with erythema migrans and in all 5 analyzed frozen biopsies of patients with acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans. In approximately half of the paraffin-embedded biopsies from patients with erythema migrans (nine of 23) and acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans (13 of 27), Borrelia burgdorferi-specific DNA was identified. These results question the association of localized scleroderma with known subtypes of Borrelia burgdorferi.