Diagnostic challenges of Lyme borreliosis

Friday 3 February 2023, 12:30 pm
F.R. van de Schoor
prof. dr. B.J. Kullberg, prof. dr. L.A.B. Joosten, prof. dr. J. Hovius (Amsterdam UMC)
dr. C.C. van den Wijngaard (RIVM)

Current diagnostic testing for the presence of Lyme borreliosis has its challenges related to the broad clinical spectrum of the disease and the inherent limitations tied to serological testing. In this thesis, we describe laboratory studies to investigate the host response to the responsible pathogen, Borrelia burgdorferi, and validate a new type of tests for Lyme borreliosis, so-called cellular tests. We found that cellular tests for Lyme borreliosis have limited diagnostic value. Most importantly these cellular tests report false-positive test results in healthy volunteers without Lyme borreliosis. Laboratory experiments showed that Borrelia can expedite or tolerate immune cells providing an explanation for the difficulties the scientific community has developing new diagnostic tests for Lyme borreliosis. In addition, Borrelia is a poor inducer of interferon , which is the cytokine used for most cellular tests. We could amplify the interferon  production by addition of other cytokines such as interleukin 12 and 7.

In 2016 Freek van de Schoor graduated from the Radboud University and started as a medical doctor in the Gelderse Vallei hospital in Ede. He started this research project in 2017 at the Radboudumc. Currently, he is doing a residency program in internal medicine in the Rijnstate hospital in Arnhem to ultimately become a rheumatologist.