In recent years a febrile illness apparently associated with tick bite in patients in the United States has been attributed to infection by an Ehrlichia species. This implication is based on serologic responses to E. canis, morphologic demonstration of ehrlichiae in clinical materials, and a single isolate distinct from E. canis which was obtained from a human patient by the Centers for Disease Control. Little is known about the antigens of the ehrlichiae. This report expands the breadth of available knowledge concerning the antigenic components and serologic responses to component antigens of E. canis, E. sennetsu, and E. risticii. Protein immunoblotting after sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis by using density gradient- purified ehrlichiae and homologous antisera demonstrated reproducible and characteristic antigens within each species (for E. sennetsu, 91, 64, 54, 44, 36, 34, 28, 25, and 24 kDa; for E. risticii, 70, 52, 48, 44, 35, 28, 24, 23, and 20 kDa; for E. canis, 110, 64, 52, 42, 33, 28, 24, 23, and 20 kDa). When antisera were reacted with heterologous antigens, cross-reactivity among these species was virtually restricted to the 70-kDa antigen. Furthermore, when serum samples obtained from 10 patients who were convalescing from ehrlichiosis were tested against each antigen, only three serum samples had any reactivities, and these serum samples reacted with only a few of the antigenic bands. These results document the molecular sizes of electrophoretically separated antigens of the three Ehrlichia species, confirm their serologic relationships, and support the novel nature of the agent(s) of human ehrlichiosis in the United States.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Microbiology (medical)