Relationship between immunity to Borrelia burgdorferi outer-surface protein A (OspA) and Lyme arthritis

Clin Infect Dis. 2011 Feb;52 Suppl 3(Suppl 3):s259-65. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciq117.


Antibiotic-refractory Lyme arthritis may result from Borrelia burgdorferi-induced autoimmunity in affected joints. Such patients usually have certain HLA-DRB1 molecules that bind an epitope of B. burgdorferi outer-surface protein A (OspA₁₆₃₋₁₇₅), and cellular and humoral immune responses to OspA are greater in patients with antibiotic-refractory arthritis than in those with antibiotic-responsive arthritis. Recent work in a mouse model suggests that, during B. burgdorferi infection, OspA in genetically susceptible individuals stimulates a particularly strong T(H)1 response, which may be one of several factors that can help set the stage for a putative autoimmune response in affected joints. However, vaccination with OspA did not induce arthritis in this mouse model, and case and control comparisons in human vaccine trials did not show an increased frequency of arthritis among OspA-vaccinated individuals. Thus, a vaccine-induced immune response to OspA does not replicate the sequence of events needed in the natural infection to induce antibiotic-refractory Lyme arthritis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Surface / immunology*
  • Antigens, Surface / metabolism
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / immunology*
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Bacterial Vaccines / immunology*
  • Bacterial Vaccines / metabolism
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / immunology*
  • HLA-DR Antigens / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Immunity, Humoral
  • Lipoproteins / immunology*
  • Lipoproteins / metabolism
  • Lyme Disease / epidemiology
  • Lyme Disease / immunology*
  • Lyme Disease / prevention & control
  • Lyme Disease Vaccines / adverse effects
  • Models, Animal
  • Th1 Cells / immunology
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Antigens, Surface
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • Bacterial Vaccines
  • HLA-DR Antigens
  • Lipoproteins
  • Lyme Disease Vaccines
  • OspA protein