Culture and the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) were compared for detection of Borrelia burgdorferi infection in wild-caught Peromyscus leucopus and experimentally inoculated C.B-17 scid/scid (severe combined immunodeficient) mice. PCR targeted highly conserved regions of the ospA gene and could detect one to five cultured organisms and 10 to 50 copies of molecularly cloned ospA DNA. Organs (kidney, spleen, and urinary bladder) and/or ear biopsy samples were obtained from 108 captured P. leucopus mice, and tissues were obtained from 7 experimentally inoculated mice. A simple sample-processing procedure with proteinase K and detergent treatment was used in the PCR analysis. Overall, B. burgdorferi was detected in 29 of 108 (27%) P. leucopus mice by culture and in 31 of 108 (29%) mice by PCR. As assessed by the kappa statistic, agreement between PCR and culture was high for ear and bladder (kappa = 0.80 and 0.65, respectively) and low for kidney and spleen (kappa = 0.37 and 0.03, respectively). While concordant results were obtained from 98 animals, PCR detected B. burgdorferi from 6 additional mice for which cultures were negative and culture detected B. burgdorferi from 4 animals which were PCR negative. Further phenol-chloroform extraction of DNA in a limited number of samples improved the sensitivity of PCR compared with that of culture. These results indicate that PCR may be as sensitive as culture for detecting B. burgdorferi in ear samples and that PCR analysis is suitable for establishing the infection status of animals in mark-release-recapture studies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Microbiology (medical)