Objectives: Prompt antibiotic treatment of early stage Lyme borreliosis (LB) prevents progression to severe multisystem disease. There is a clinical need to improve the diagnostic specificity of early stage Lyme assays in the period prior to the mounting of a robust serology response. Using a novel analyte harvesting nanotechnology, Nanotrap particles, we evaluated urinary Borrelia Outer surface protein A (OspA) C-terminus peptide in early stage LB before and after treatment, and in patients suspected of late stage disseminated LB.
Method: We employed Nanotrap particles to concentrate urinary OspA and used a highly specific anti-OspA monoclonal antibody (mAb) as a detector of the C-terminus peptides. We mapped the mAb epitope to a narrow specific OspA C-terminal domain OspA236-239 conserved across infectious Borrelia species but with no homology to human proteins and no cross-reactivity with relevant viral and non-Borrelia bacterial proteins. 268 urine samples from patients being evaluated for all categories of LB were collected in a LB endemic area. The urinary OspA assay, blinded to outcome, utilized Nanotrap particle pre-processing, western blotting to evaluate the OspA molecular size, and OspA peptide competition for confirmation.
Results: OspA test characteristics: sensitivity 1.7 pg/mL (lowest limit of detection), % coefficient of variation (CV) = 8 %, dynamic range 1.7-30 pg/mL. Pre-treatment, 24/24 newly diagnosed patients with an erythema migrans (EM) rash were positive for urinary OspA while false positives for asymptomatic patients were 0/117 (Chi squared p < 10(-6)). For 10 patients who exhibited persistence of the EM rash during the course of antibiotic therapy, 10/10 were positive for urinary OspA. Urinary OspA of 8/8 patients switched from detectable to undetectable following symptom resolution post-treatment. Specificity of the urinary OspA test for the clinical symptoms was 40/40. Specificity of the urinary OspA antigen test for later serology outcome was 87.5 % (21 urinary OspA positive/24 serology positive, Chi squared p = 4.072e(-15)). 41 of 100 patients under surveillance for persistent LB in an endemic area were positive for urinary OspA protein.
Conclusions: OspA urinary shedding was strongly linked to concurrent active symptoms (e.g. EM rash and arthritis), while resolution of these symptoms after therapy correlated with urinary conversion to OspA negative.