Further evidence for Borrelia burgdorferi infection in morphea and lichen sclerosus et atrophicus confirmed by DNA amplification

J Invest Dermatol. 1993 May;100(5):717-20. doi: 10.1111/1523-1747.ep12472369.


We present further evidence in support of the notion that Borrelia burgdorferi is possibly involved in the pathogenesis of morphea and lichen sclerosus et atrophicus (LSA). Running a nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with a primer set specific for the flagellin gene of B. burgdorferi enabled us to demonstrate the presence of Borrelia DNA in skin biopsies of patients with morphea (nine of nine) of LSA (six of six). Biopsy specimens obtained from patients with erythema chronicum migrans (two patients, four of four samples) and acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans (one patient, one of one sample) also showed positive PCR results. By contrast, there was no amplification of Borrelia DNA in control biopsies either from patients with chronic eczema (three of three) or psoriasis (two of two) or from normal skin (three of three). Antibodies directed against B. burgdorferi were only detected in the serum of patients with erythema chronicum migrans (two of two) and acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans (one of one) but were not present in cases of morphea (five of five), LSA (three of three), or in control subjects (three of three). These data suggest that B. burgdorferi may play a role in the pathogenesis of both morphea and LSA. Furthermore, we conclude that PCR analysis provides an important diagnostic tool, even in seronegative Borrelia infections.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Base Sequence
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group / genetics
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lichenoid Eruptions / genetics
  • Lichenoid Eruptions / microbiology*
  • Lyme Disease / complications*
  • Lyme Disease / genetics
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Probes / genetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction*
  • Scleroderma, Localized / genetics
  • Scleroderma, Localized / microbiology*


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Molecular Probes