Immunization with outer surface protein (Osp) A, but not OspC, provides cross-protection of mice challenged with North American isolates of Borrelia burgdorferi

J Infect Dis. 1997 Feb;175(2):400-5. doi: 10.1093/infdis/175.2.400.


The identification of antigens with the capacity to induce a broad spectrum of protective immunity is an important consideration in the design of a Lyme disease vaccine. In this study, the range of protection provided by outer surface protein (Osp) A or OspC vaccination was compared. Mice actively immunized with OspA or OspC were challenged with 3 North American isolates of Borrelia burgdorferi. OspA-immunized mice were fully protected from infection with each of the isolates, whereas mice immunized with OspC were protected from infection with the homologous isolate but not with 2 heterologous isolates. Sequence analysis revealed that the ospA genes from these 3 isolates were >99% homologous, whereas the ospC genes shared only 81%-85% homology. Western blot analysis suggested antigenic heterogeneity associated with OspC but not OspA. These results indicate that genetic and antigenic heterogeneity may limit the usefulness of OspC as a vaccine constituent.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Antigens, Bacterial*
  • Antigens, Surface / genetics*
  • Antigens, Surface / immunology*
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / genetics*
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / immunology*
  • Bacterial Vaccines
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group / genetics*
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group / immunology*
  • Cross Reactions / immunology
  • Immunization
  • Lipoproteins*
  • Lyme Disease / immunology*
  • Lyme Disease / prevention & control*
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Recombinant Proteins / immunology*
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Vaccines, Synthetic / immunology*


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Antigens, Surface
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • Bacterial Vaccines
  • Lipoproteins
  • OspA protein
  • OspC protein
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Vaccines, Synthetic