The Lymphocyte Transformation Test for Borrelia Detects Active Lyme Borreliosis and Verifies Effective Antibiotic Treatment

Volker von Baehr1, Cornelia Doebis1, Hans-Dieter Volk2, Rüdiger von Baehr1, *
1 Institute for Medical Diagnostics, Immunology Department, Nicolaistrasse 22, 12247 Berlin
2 Institute for Medical Immunology, Charité University Medicine Berlin, Campus Mitte, Charitéplatz 1, 10117 Berlin

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© Beahr et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Institut für Medizinische Diagnostik Berlin, Nicolaistraße 22, 12247 Berlin, Germany; Tel: +49-30-77001220; Fax: +49-30-77001236; E-mail:


Borrelia-specific antibodies are not detectable until several weeks after infection and even if they are present, they are no proof of an active infection. Since the sensitivity of culture and PCR for the diagnosis or exclusion of borreliosis is too low, a method is required that detects an active Borrelia infection as early as possible. For this purpose, a lymphocyte transformation test (LTT) using lysate antigens of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto, Borrelia afzelii and Borrelia garinii and recombinant OspC was developed and validated through investigations of seronegative and seropositive healthy individuals as well as of seropositive patients with clinically manifested borreliosis. The sensitivity of the LTT in clinical borreliosis before antibiotic treatment was determined as 89,4% while the specificity was 98,7%. In 1480 patients with clinically suspected borreliosis, results from serology and LTT were comparable in 79.8% of cases. 18% were serologically positive and LTT-negative. These were mainly patients with borreliosis after antibiotic therapy. 2.2% showed a negative serology and a positive LTT result. Half of them had an early erythema migrans. Following antibiotic treatment, the LTT became negative or borderline in patients with early manifestations of borreliosis, whereas in patients with late symptoms, it showed a regression while still remaining positive. Therefore, we propose the follow-up monitoring of dis-seminated Borrelia infections as the main indication for the Borrelia-LTT.

Keywords: : Borrelia serology, borreliosis, diagnostics, immune response, lymphocyte transformation test, T cells.