, Volume 57, Issue 11, pp 1562-1569

Cellular and molecular aspects of Lyme arthritis

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Lyme disease is a multisystem illness initiated upon infection with the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi. Whereas the majority of patients who develop Lyme arthritis may be successfully treated with antibiotic therapy, about 10% go on to develop arthritis which persists for months to years, despite antibiotic therapy. Development of what we have termed treatment-resistant Lyme arthritis has previously been associated with both the presence of particular major histocompatibility complex class II alleles and immunoreactivity to the spriochetal outer surface protein A (OspA). Recently, we showed that patients with treatment-resistant Lyme arthritis, but not patients with other forms of arthritis, generate synovial fluid T cell responses to an immunodominant epitope of OspA and a highly homologous region of the human-lymphocyte-function-associated antigen-1α L chain. Identification of a bacterial antigen capable of propagating an autoimmune response against a self-antigen provides a model of molecular mimicry in the pathogenesis of treatment-resistant Lyme arthritis.

Received 21 December 1999; received after revision 10 April 2000; accepted 11 April 2000