Testing Raman spectroscopy as a diagnostic approach for Lyme disease patients.
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Lyme disease (LD), the leading tick-borne disease in the Northern hemisphere, is caused by spirochetes of several genospecies of the Borreliella burgdorferi sensu lato complex. LD is a multi-systemic and highly debilitating illness that is notoriously challenging to diagnose. The main drawbacks of the two-tiered serology, the only approved diagnostic test in the United States, include poor sensitivity, background seropositivity, and cross-reactivity. Recently, Raman spectroscopy (RS) was examined for its LD diagnostic utility by our earlier proof-of-concept study. The previous investigation analyzed the blood from mice that were infected with 297 and B31 strains of Borreliella burgdorferi sensu stricto (s.s.). The selected strains represented two out of the three major clades of B. burgdorferi s.s. isolates found in the United States. The obtained results were encouraging and prompted us to further investigate the RS diagnostic capacity for LD in this study. The present investigation has analyzed blood of mice infected with European genospecies, Borreliella afzelii or Borreliella garinii, or B. burgdorferi N40, a strain of the third major class of B. burgdorferi s.s. in the United States. Moreover, 90 human serum samples that originated from LD-confirmed, LD-negative, and LD-probable human patients were also analyzed by RS. The overall results demonstrated that blood samples from Borreliella-infected mice were identified with 96% accuracy, 94% sensitivity, and 100% specificity. Furthermore, human blood samples were analyzed with 88% accuracy, 85% sensitivity, and 90% specificity. Together, the current data indicate that RS should be further explored as a potential diagnostic test for LD patients.