▪ Objective: To determine the sensitivity and specificity of the T-cell proliferative assay as a diagnostic test in Lyme disease.
▪ Design: Cross-sectional study of patients with Lyme arthritis or chronic neuroborreliosis who had a history of erythema migrans, positive antibody responses to Borrelia burgdorferi by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), or both; patients with other diseases; and healthy subjects.
▪ Setting: Diagnostic Lyme disease clinic in a university hospital.
▪ Patients: Forty-two of the 67 patients with active Lyme arthritis or chronic neuroborreliosis who were seen during the study period; 16 patients with inactive late Lyme disease; 77 patients with other rheumatologic or neurologic diseases; 9 workers from the Borrelia laboratory; and 9 healthy subjects.
▪ Measurements and Main Results: Nineteen of 42 patients with Lyme arthritis or chronic neuroborreliosis and 4 of 77 patients with other diseases had positive T-cell proliferative responses to B. burgdorferi antigens. The sensitivity of the proliferative assay was 45% (95% Cl, 30% to 60%) and the specificity was 95% (95% Cl, 87% to 99%). Twelve of 27 patients with active Lyme arthritis, 7 of 15 patients with chronic neuroborreliosis, 4 of 16 patients with inactive Lyme disease, 4 of 9 healthy Borrelia laboratory workers, and 0 of 9 healthy subjects had positive responses. Three of five patients with Lyme disease who had negative or indeterminant antibody responses by ELISA had positive T-cell proliferative responses.
▪ Conclusion: The T-cell proliferative assay may be a helpful diagnostic test in the small subset of patients with late Lyme disease who have negative or indeterminant antibody responses by ELISA.