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Sera from 210 patients with
Lyme borreliosis (LB) were studied by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) based on a synthetic peptide (pepC10) comprising the C-terminal 10-amino-acid residues of OspC of Borrelia burgdorferi. We found that 36.3 and 45.0% of the serum samples from patients with erythema migrans (EM) and neuroborreliosis (NB), respectively, displayed immunoglobulin M (IgM) anti-pepC10 reactivities, while these samples rarely (</=8%) displayed IgG antibody reactivities. Sera from patients with acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans did not contain anti-pepC10 antibodies. The diagnostic performance of this newly developed peptide ELISA was compared with those of an ELISA based on the full-length recombinant OspC protein (rOspC) and a commercially available ELISA based on the B. burgdorferi flagellum (Fla). The sensitivity of the IgM pepC10 ELISA was slightly lower (P < 0.04) than that of the rOspC ELISA for EM patients (36.3 versus 43.8%), while there was no difference for NB patients (45.0 versus 48.0%). However, the optical density values obtained by the pepC10 ELISA were generally higher than those obtained by the rOspC ELISA, leading to a significantly better quantitative discrimination between seropositive patients with NB and controls (P < 0.008). The specificity of the pepC10 ELISA was similar to those of the rOspC ELISA and the Fla ELISA for relevant controls including patients with syphilis and mononucleosis. Although the overall diagnostic sensitivity of the Fla ELISA was superior, 8.8 and 12.0% of the EM and NB patients, respectively, were antibody positive only by the pepC10 ELISA. Thus, use of a diagnostic test for LB based on the detection of IgM antibodies to pepC10 and Fla has increased sensitivity for the diagnosis of early LB.