An autoimmune response to myelin basic protein (MBP) has been proposed to participate in the development of the chronic neurologic manifestations that may accompany Borrelia burgdorferi-induced
Lyme disease. Using an immunospot assay, we counted cells secreting antibodies to MBP. Anti-MBP IgG antibody-secreting cells were detected in CSF from eight of 13 consecutive patients with
Lyme neuroborreliosis irrespective of stage of
disease. The numbers were between 1/370 and 1/5,000 CSF cells (mean, 1/1,250 in the 13 patients). The highest numbers were encountered in two patients with severe signs of CNS involvement. The numbers decreased in parallel with clinical improvement after treatment. Anti-MBP IgG antibody-secreting cells were also observed in the CSF from patients with a variety of other inflammatory diseases of the nervous system, and their role in the development of tissue damage remains unsettled. Anti-MBP IgG antibody-secreting cells were not detected in the patients’ blood, reflecting accumulation of this autoantibody response to CSF.