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Characteristic findings on examination of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in
Lyme neuroborreliosis include mononuclear pleocytosis, oligoclonal immunoglobulin G (IgG) bands, and evidence for local production of specific antibodies. We utilized an immunospot assay to detect cells secreting anti-Borrelia burgdorferi antibodies of different isotypes over the course of
disease. Such cells were detected in CSF from 13 consecutive patients with neuroborreliosis examined before treatment. IgG antibody-secreting cells were present in high numbers (mean, 32 cells per 10(4) CSF cells), whereas IgA and IgM antibody-secreting cells were found less frequently and at lower numbers (mean, 5 and 6 cells per 10(4) CSF cells, respectively). Clinical improvement after penicillin treatment was paralleled by a rapid decline of antibody-secreting cells in CSF, but they were still detected, although at lower numbers, in 5 of 10 patients examined more than 6 months after treatment. This specific B-cell response persisted despite clinical improvement. Whether it reflects persistence of antigen is unsettled.