Antigenic conservation of an immunodominant invariable region of the VlsE lipoprotein among European pathogenic genospecies of Borrelia burgdorferi SL

J Infect Dis. 2000 Nov;182(5):1455-62. doi: 10.1086/315862. Epub 2000 Oct 9.


Lyme disease is caused by genetically divergent spirochetes, including 3 pathogenic genospecies: Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto, B. garinii, and B. afzelii. Serodiagnosis is complicated by this genetic diversity. A synthetic peptide (C(6)), based on the 26-mer invariable region (IR(6)) of the variable surface antigen of B. burgdorferi (VlsE), was used as ELISA antigen, to test serum samples collected from mice experimentally infected with the 3 genospecies and from European patients with Lyme disease. Regardless of the infecting strains, mice produced a strong antibody response to C(6), which indicates that IR(6) is antigenically conserved among the pathogenic genospecies. Twenty of 23 patients with culture-confirmed erythema migrans had a detectable antibody response to C(6). A sensitivity of 95.2% was achieved, with serum samples collected from patients with well-defined acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans. Fourteen of 20 patients with symptoms of late Lyme disease also had a positive anti-IR(6) ELISA. Thus, it is possible that C(6) may be used to serodiagnose Lyme disease universally.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology*
  • Antigens, Surface / immunology*
  • Bacterial Proteins*
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group / classification
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group / genetics
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group / immunology*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Lipoproteins / immunology*
  • Lyme Disease / diagnosis*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Serologic Tests


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Antigens, Surface
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Lipoproteins
  • VlsE protein, Borrelia burgdorferi