Antibody response to IR6, a conserved immunodominant region of the VlsE lipoprotein, wanes rapidly after antibiotic treatment of Borrelia burgdorferi infection in experimental animals and in humans

J Infect Dis. 2001 Oct 1;184(7):870-8. doi: 10.1086/323392. Epub 2001 Aug 30.


Invariable region (IR)(6), an immunodominant conserved region of VlsE, the antigenic variation protein of Borrelia burgdorferi, is currently used for the serologic diagnosis of Lyme disease in humans and canines. A longitudinal assessment of anti-IR(6) antibody levels in B. burgdorferi-infected rhesus monkeys revealed that this level diminished sharply after antibiotic treatment (within 25 weeks). In contrast, antibody levels to P39 and to whole-cell antigen extracts of B. burgdorferi either remained unchanged or diminished less. A longitudinal analysis in dogs yielded similar results. In humans, the anti-IR(6) antibody titer diminished by a factor of > or =4 in successfully treated patients and by a factor of <4 in treatment-resistant patients. This result suggests that the quantification of anti-IR(6) antibody titer as a function of time should be investigated further as a test to assess response to Lyme disease therapy or to determine whether a B. burgdorferi infection has been eliminated.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood*
  • Antigens, Bacterial / chemistry
  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology*
  • Antigens, Surface / chemistry
  • Antigens, Surface / immunology*
  • Bacterial Proteins*
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group* / immunology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunodominant Epitopes / chemistry
  • Immunodominant Epitopes / immunology
  • Lipoproteins / chemistry
  • Lipoproteins / immunology*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Lyme Disease / drug therapy
  • Lyme Disease / immunology
  • Lyme Disease / microbiology*
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Time Factors


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Antigens, Surface
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Immunodominant Epitopes
  • Lipoproteins
  • VlsE protein, Borrelia burgdorferi