Persistence of immunoglobulin M or immunoglobulin G antibody responses to Borrelia burgdorferi 10-20 years after active Lyme disease

Clin Infect Dis. 2001 Sep 15;33(6):780-5. doi: 10.1086/322669. Epub 2001 Aug 10.


The interpretation of serological results for patients who had Lyme disease many years ago is not well defined. We studied the serological status of 79 patients who had had Lyme disease 10-20 years ago and did not currently have signs or symptoms of active Lyme disease. Of the 40 patients who had had early Lyme disease alone, 4 (10%) currently had IgM responses to Borrelia burgdorferi, and 10 (25%) still had IgG reactivity to the spirochete, as determined by a 2-test approach (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and Western blot). Of the 39 patients who had had Lyme arthritis, 6 (15%) currently had IgM responses and 24 (62%) still had IgG reactivity to the spirochete. IgM or IgG antibody responses to B. burgdorferi may persist for 10-20 years, but these responses are not indicative of active infection.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group / immunology*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood*
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood*
  • Lyme Disease / drug therapy
  • Lyme Disease / immunology*
  • Time Factors


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M