Subscribe to the World's Most Popular Newsletter (it's free!)
Borrelia burgdorferi, the agent of
Lyme borreliosis, is genetically more heterogeneous than previously thought. In Europe five genospecies have been described from the original B. burgdorferi sensu lato (sl): B. burgdorferi sensu stricto (ss), B. garinii, B. afzelii, B. lusitaniae, and B. valaisiana. In the United States, B. burgdorferi ss as well as B. bissettii in California and B. andersonii on the East Coast were differentiated. In Asia, B. japonica has been identified along, with B. garinii, B. afzelii, and B. valaisiana. In order to evaluate sensitivity and specificity of four species-specific monoclonal antibodies, we analyzed 210 B. burgdorferi sl isolates belonging to eight genospecies by immunoblot and confirmed genospecies by restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) of rrf (5S)-rrl (23S) intergenic spacer amplicon. Monoclonal antibody H3TS had 100% sensitivity for 55 B. burgdorferi ss isolates but showed reactivity with all four isolates belonging to B. bissetii. Monoclonal antibody I 17.3 showed 100% specificity and sensitivity for 45 B. afzelii isolates. Monoclonal antibody D6 was 100% specific for B. garinii but missed 1 of 64 isolates (98.5% sensitivity). Monoclonal antibody A116k was 100% specific for B. valaisiana but was unreactive with 4 of 24 isolates (83.5% sensitivity). Genetic analysis correlated well with results of reactivity and confirmed efficacy of the phenotypic typing of these antibodies. Some isolates showed atypical RFLP. Therefore, both phenotypic and genotypic analyses are needed to characterize new Borrelia isolates.