Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Microbiology & Immunology

First Advisor

Richard T Marconi


In North America, the primary causative agent of Lyme Disease (LD) is Borreliella burgdorferi (B. burgdorferi). In the east, B. burgdorferi is transmitted by Ixodes scapularis while it is transmitted by I. pacificus in the western half of the US. Lyme disease has a significant health impact on humans, companion animals, and wildlife. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are >470,000 cases per year with substantial economic burdens in the United States. Currently, diagnostic testing of LD has significant limitations resulting in misdiagnosis. Advances in diagnostic testing would reduce the financial burden and misdiagnosis of LD.

This study investigated antibody response to B. burgdorferi infection to identify immunodominant antigens using human sera panels obtained from the Lyme Disease Biobank. The LDB characterized sera panels as early Lyme, carditis, neuroborreliosis, and persistent LD. ELISA analyses frequently detected multiple antigenic proteins with VlsE, DbpA, DbpB, and FlaB as the top rank. Western blots were performed on all the samples following the standard two-tier testing (STTT). The positive rate in the first-tier testing (Enzyme Immuno-Assay) was much higher than in the second-tier testing (immunoblots). When we compared diagnostic results from the LDB, we found that STTT positive rate was higher than LDB results. Furthermore, OspC western blot demonstrated a type-specific immune response in the early Lyme panel. Herein, we identified antigenic proteins from B. burgdorferi that can be used to construct next-generation diagnostic antigens. In addition, we demonstrated the significant limitation of current LD diagnostic assays.


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