Circulating antibody-secreting cells are a biomarker for early diagnosis in patients with Lyme disease

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Publication Date


Journal Title

PloS one

MeSH Headings

Humans; Case-Control Studies; Antigens, Bacterial; Immunoglobulin G; Lyme Disease; Antibodies, Bacterial; Biomarkers; Antibody-Producing Cells; Early Diagnosis; Borrelia burgdorferi


BACKGROUND: Diagnostic immunoassays for Lyme disease have several limitations including: 1) not all patients seroconvert; 2) seroconversion occurs later than symptom onset; and 3) serum antibody levels remain elevated long after resolution of the infection. INTRODUCTION: MENSA (Medium Enriched for Newly Synthesized Antibodies) is a novel diagnostic fluid that contains antibodies produced in vitro by circulating antibody-secreting cells (ASC). It enables measurement of the active humoral immune response. METHODS: In this observational, case-control study, we developed the MicroB-plex Anti-C6/Anti-pepC10 Immunoassay to measure antibodies specific for the Borrelia burgdorferi peptide antigens C6 and pepC10 and validated it using a CDC serum sample collection. Then we examined serum and MENSA samples from 36 uninfected Control subjects and 12 Newly Diagnosed Lyme Disease Patients. RESULTS: Among the CDC samples, antibodies against C6 and/or pepC10 were detected in all seropositive Lyme patients (8/8), but not in sera from seronegative patients or healthy controls (0/24). Serum antibodies against C6 and pepC10 were detected in one of 36 uninfected control subjects (1/36); none were detected in the corresponding MENSA samples (0/36). In samples from newly diagnosed patients, serum antibodies identified 8/12 patients; MENSA antibodies also detected 8/12 patients. The two measures agreed on six positive individuals and differed on four others. In combination, the serum and MENSA tests identified 10/12 early Lyme patients. Typically, serum antibodies persisted 80 days or longer while MENSA antibodies declined to baseline within 40 days of successful treatment. DISCUSSION: MENSA-based immunoassays present a promising complement to serum immunoassays for diagnosis and tracking therapeutic success in Lyme infections.

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