To assess the contribution of the lymphocyte proliferation assay in response to borrelial antigens to establishing a diagnosis of Lyme arthritis (LA) the response to two strains of Borrelia burgdorferi was tested in peripheral blood lymphocytes of 103 children and adolescents with arthritis, among them 55 with LA and 48 control patients. Patients with LA had a significantly higher response to borrelial antigens than control patients. However, there were several patients with false positive and false negative test results. Specificity and sensitivity of the test were 78% and 77%. In patients with LA the test may turn positive after antibiotic therapy and remain positive for up to 19 months after the disappearance of arthritis. The test does not aid in prognosis or follow up. In one patient with seronegative LA specific lymphocyte proliferation and polymerase chain reaction for borrelial fla sequences in urine were positive.
Conclusion: Rarely the lymphocyte proliferation assay may aid in finding the correct diagnosis when clinical presentation and anti-borrelial serology do not match.