Antibody response in Lyme disease: evaluation of diagnostic tests

J Infect Dis. 1984 May;149(5):789-95. doi: 10.1093/infdis/149.5.789.


The antibody response to the Ixodes dammini spirochete was determined in 41 serial serum samples from 12 patients with Lyme disease. By enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), 11 of the 12 patients had higher titers of specific IgM antibody (greater than 1:200) during early disease than did 40 control subjects. Specific IgM antibody titers, which correlated with total amounts of IgM antibody (P less than .001), sometimes remained elevated throughout the illness. During neuritis, nine of 10 patients had higher specific IgG antibody titers (greater than 1:200) than did controls, and when arthritis was present, all had such titers, which remained elevated after months of remission. In the ELISA, antibody responses determined by single or serial dilutions were similar, but the ELISA was more sensitive and specific than was immunofluorescence. Adsorption of sera with Borrelia hermsii generally resulted in a fourfold decrease in titers of cross-reactive antibodies, but the titers of sera from patients with Lyme disease were also reduced. Currently, the ELISA, without adsorption, is the best diagnostic test for Lyme disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Bacterial / analysis*
  • Arthritis, Infectious / diagnosis
  • Arthritis, Infectious / immunology*
  • Cross Reactions
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / analysis*
  • Immunoglobulin M / analysis*
  • Leptospirosis / immunology
  • Relapsing Fever / immunology
  • Spirochaetales / immunology*
  • Spirochaetales Infections / immunology*
  • Syphilis / immunology
  • Ticks / microbiology
  • Time Factors


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M