Antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi OspA, OspC, OspF, and C6 antigens as markers for early and late infection in dogs.
ABSTRACT Lyme disease in the United States is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto, which is transmitted to mammals by infected ticks. Borrelia spirochetes differentially express immunogenic outer surface proteins (Osp). Our aim was to evaluate antibody responses to Osp antigens to aid the diagnosis of early infection and the management of Lyme disease. We analyzed antibody responses during the first 3 months after the experimental infection of dogs using a novel multiplex assay. Results were compared to those obtained with two commercial assays detecting C6 antigen. Multiplex analysis identified antibodies to OspC and C6 as early as 3 weeks postinfection (p.i.) and those to OspF by 5 weeks p.i. Antibodies to C6 and OspF increased throughout the study, while antibodies to OspC peaked between 7 and 11 weeks p.i. and declined thereafter. A short-term antibody response to OspA was observed in 3/8 experimentally infected dogs on day 21 p.i. Quant C6 enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) results matched multiplex results during the first 7 weeks p.i.; however, antibody levels subsequently declined by up to 29%. Immune responses then were analyzed in sera from 125 client-owned dogs and revealed high agreement between antibodies to OspF and C6 as robust markers for infection. Results from canine patient sera supported that OspC is an early infection marker and antibodies to OspC decline over time. The onset and decline of antibody responses to B. burgdorferi Osp antigens and C6 reflect their differential expression during infection. They provide valuable tools to determine the stage of infection, treatment outcomes, and vaccination status in dogs.