Isolation and polymerase chain reaction typing of Borrelia afzelii from a skin lesion in a seronegative patient with generalized ulcerating bullous lichen sclerosus et atrophicus.

 Br J Dermatol. 2001 Feb;144,2:387-92. Isolation and polymerase chain reaction typing of 
Borrelia afzelii from a skin lesion in a seronegative patient with generalized ulcerating 
bullous lichen sclerosus et atrophicus. Breier F, Khanakah G, Stanek G, Kunz G, Aberer E, 
Schmidt B, Tappeiner G.
Department of Dermatology, Lainz Municipal Hospital, Wolkersbergenstrasse 1, A-1130 Vienna, 
Austria. brf@der.khl.magwien.gv.at
A 64-year-old woman presented with bullous and ulcerating lichen sclerosus et atrophicus, 
LSA, on the neck, trunk, genital and perigenital area and the extremities. Histology of lesional
skin showed the typical manifestations of LSA; in one of the biopsies spirochaetes were 
detected by silver staining. Despite treatment with four courses of ceftriaxone with or without 
methylprednisone for up to 20 days, progression of LSA was only stopped for a maximum of 1 
year. Spirochaetes were isolated from skin cultures obtained from enlarging LSA lesions. 
These spirochaetes were identified as Borrelia afzelii by sodium dodecyl
sulphate--polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and polymerase chain reaction, PCR, analyses. 
However, serology for B. burgdorferi sensu lato was repeatedly negative. After one further 28-day 
course of ceftriaxone the lesions stopped expanding and sclerosis of the skin was diminished. At 
this time cultures for spirochaetes and PCR of lesional skin for B. afzelii DNA remained negative. 
These findings suggest a pathogenetic role for B. afzelii in the development of LSA and a 
beneficial effect of appropriate antibiotic treatment.
[From the article:] The relapses she repeatedly suffered despite initially successful antibiotic 
treatment could be related to the observation that Borrelia may possibly be able to remain 
dormant in certain tissue compartments, thus escaping bactericidal antibiotic activity. This 
would be consistent with the fact that these relapses were always able to be treated successfully 
with a course of the same antibiotics as before; this is corroborated by a recent report that Bb 
may persist in experimentally infected dogs despite antibiotic treatment with doxycycline or 
amoxycillin.




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