Revisiting the Lyme Disease Serodiagnostic Algorithm: the Momentum Gathers

J Clin Microbiol. 2018 Jul 26;56(8):e00749-18. doi: 10.1128/JCM.00749-18. Print 2018 Aug.


Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness caused by Borreliella (Borrelia) burgdorferi, and it is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States, with an estimated incidence of 300,000 cases per year. The currently recommended approach for laboratory support of the diagnosis of Lyme disease is a standard two-tiered (STT) algorithm comprised of an enzyme-linked immunoassay (EIA) or immunofluorescence assay (IFA), followed by Western blotting (WB). The STT algorithm has low sensitivity in early infection, and there are drawbacks associated with the WB use in practice. Modified two-tiered (MTT) algorithms have been shown to improve the sensitivity of the testing in early disease while maintaining high specificity. In this issue of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, A. Pegalajar-Jurado et al. (J Clin Microbiol 56:e01943-17, 2018, report the results of their evaluation of the Liaison VlsE CLIA, the Captia B. burgdorferi IgG/IgM EIA, and the C6 B. burgdorferi (Lyme) EIA as MTT algorithms compared with results with the STT algorithm using the same tests as the first-tier test and the ViraStripe IgM and IgG WBs as the second-tier test. The results showed that all MTT algorithms had higher sensitivities than STT algorithms and were highly specific. These results showed that MTT approaches are a valid alternative to the currently recommended STT algorithm for serodiagnosis of Lyme disease, opening the door for the development of rapid diagnostics and point-of-care testing that can provide diagnostic information during the initial patient visit.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Lyme Disease*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Serologic Tests


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Immunoglobulin G