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The T-cell proliferative assay in the diagnosis of Lyme disease.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To determine the sensitivity and specificity of the T-cell proliferative assay as a diagnostic test in
Lyme disease.

DESIGN:

Cross-sectional study of patients with
Lyme arthritis or chronic neuroborreliosis who had a history of erythema migrans, positive antibody responses to Borrelia burgdorferi by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), or both; patients with other diseases; and healthy subjects.

SETTING:

Diagnostic
Lyme disease clinic in a university hospital.

PATIENTS:

Forty-two of the 67 patients with active
Lyme arthritis or chronic neuroborreliosis who were seen during the study period; 16 patients with inactive late
Lyme disease; 77 patients with other rheumatologic or neurologic diseases; 9 workers from the Borrelia laboratory; and 9 healthy subjects.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS:

Nineteen of 42 patients with
Lyme arthritis or chronic neuroborreliosis and 4 of 77 patients with other diseases had positive T-cell proliferative responses to B. burgdorferi antigens. The sensitivity of the proliferative assay was 45% (95% Cl, 30% to 60%) and the specificity was 95% (95% Cl, 87% to 99%). Twelve of 27 patients with active
Lyme arthritis, 7 of 15 patients with chronic neuroborreliosis, 4 of 16 patients with inactive
Lyme disease, 4 of 9 healthy Borrelia laboratory workers, and 0 of 9 healthy subjects had positive responses. Three of five patients with
Lyme disease who had negative or indeterminant antibody responses by ELISA had positive T-cell proliferative responses.

CONCLUSION:

The T-cell proliferative assay may be a helpful diagnostic test in the small subset of patients with late
Lyme disease who have negative or indeterminant antibody responses by ELISA.

Ann Intern Med. 1991 Oct 1;115(7):533-9. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t; Research Support, U.S. Gov’t, P.H.S.

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