Antibody response to OspC-I synthetic peptide derived from outer surface protein C of Borrelia burgdorferi in sera from Japanese forestry workers

Epidemiol Infect. 1999 Jun;122(3):429-33. doi: 10.1017/s0950268899002320.


The prevalence of antibodies against Lyme disease spirochaetes in serum samples from 80 forestry workers at high occupational risk of Lyme disease was surveyed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) with the OspC-I synthetic peptide. The peptide is part of the outer surface protein C (OspC) amino acid sequence located in the region conserved among Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto or sensu lato. Positivity for antibodies against OspC-I was observed in 25 (313%) of the forestry workers. Of these positive cases, 12 (15.0%) and 19 (23.8%) were positive for immunoglobulin M (IgM) and IgG antibody, respectively. Among 62 workers who were negative for IgG antibody against B. garinii or B. japonica in our previous study, 9 (14.5%) and 4 (6.5%) were positive for IgM and IgG antibody, respectively, in OspC-I ELISA. These results demonstrate for the first time that Lyme disease in forestry workers can be revealed using OspC-I ELISA. We conclude that forestry workers who show positive results for antibodies against OspC-I have very likely been exposed to Lyme disease spirochaetes, and that those who show positivity for IgM antibody against OspC-I may be in the early stage of Lyme disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood*
  • Antigens, Bacterial*
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / immunology*
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group / immunology*
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group / isolation & purification
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Forestry
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Lyme Disease / blood
  • Lyme Disease / epidemiology*
  • Lyme Disease / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / blood
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / immunology
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • OspC protein