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The significance of various antibodies against Borrelia burgdorferi was studied by Western blot (immunoblot) by using 578 human serum samples. The proteins regularly detected by using samples from patients with
Lyme borreliosis were those with bands with molecular masses of 94, 83, 75, 66, 60, 55, 46, 41, 39, 34, 31, 29, 22, and 17 kDa. The detectable frequencies of most of these proteins appeared to be significantly different between the sera from patients with
Lyme borreliosis and those from normal control individuals as well as from the group with syphilis. The 39-kDa protein band recognized by polyvalent antibody was found to be the most significant marker for
Lyme borreliosis. Furthermore, an anti-39-kDa immunoglobulin M response was detected in the samples from patients with early-stage
Lyme borreliosis. Results from the use of monoclonal antibodies and patient sera revealed that the 39- and 41-kDa proteins may be structurally related but are immunologically distinct antigens. The significance of antibody reactivities to the 41-, 94-, 22-, 31-, and 34-kDa protein bands is also discussed.