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The immune response at onset and during recovery from Borrelia burgdorferi meningoradiculitis.

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By Cepok S, Zhou D, Vogel F, Rosche B, Grummel V, Sommer N, Hemmer B • • June 1, 2003


BACKGROUND: Borrelia burgdorferi causes a wide range of neurologic syndromes. In Europe, acute meningoradiculitis is the most common manifestation.

OBJECTIVE: To address the nature of the immune response during the course of B burgdorferi meningoradiculitis, with special respect to the early and late changes in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).

METHODS: Serial immunophenotyping was performed and cytokine measurements were obtained in the peripheral blood and CSF of 12 European patients with definite B burgdorferi meningoradiculitis.

RESULTS: Early during infection and before initiation of treatment, we observed high levels of interleukin (IL) 10, IL-6, and IL-8, and large numbers of B cells and plasma cells in the CSF of most patients. At the same time, we found a mainly unspecific intrathecal antibody synthesis. During resolution of the infection, cytokine levels normalized rapidly and plasma cells disappeared from the CSF. In parallel, the percentage of B cells in the CSF increased over several months, accompanied by rising levels of intrathecally produced B burgdorferi-specific antibodies.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings demonstrate that the early phase of B burgdorferi meningoradiculitis is characterized by a well-coordinated immune response involving specific cytokine release and plasma cell recruitment, followed by a long-lasting, antigen-specific B-cell response in the central nervous system.

Arch Neurol. 2003 Jun;60(6):849-55. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

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