Among 6 patients with prolonged episodes of
Lyme arthritis, the mean response of peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) to all Borrelia burgdorferi antigens (stimulation index [SI] 46) was greater than that among 5 patients with brief attacks of
Lyme arthritis (SI 13; P less than 0.1), as well as that among 7 control patients with rheumatoid arthritis and among 6 normal control subjects (in both instances SI 3; P less than 0.05). In individual patients with brief episodes of
Lyme arthritis, PBL had similar low levels of reactivity with the 20-kd, 31-kd, 34-kd, 41-kd, 55/58-kd, and 66-kd spirochetal polypeptides. In individual patients with prolonged arthritis, PBL usually had similar marked responsiveness to the 34-kd, 41-kd, 55/58-kd, and 66-kd polypeptides, but they had greater reactivity with the 34-kd outer surface protein B than with the 31-kd outer surface protein A (P less than 0.05). In the 2 patients tested, paired samples of synovial fluid lymphocytes and PBL had a similar pattern of reactivity, but the response was 2-100-fold greater in synovial fluid lymphocytes. We conclude that patients with prolonged
Lyme arthritis have T cell responses to multiple spirochetal polypeptides.