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Concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines IFN-gamma, IL-6, IL-12 and IL-15 in serum and cerebrospinal fluid in patients with neuroborreliosis undergoing antibiotic treatment.

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Pathogenesis of
Lyme disease, including neuroborreliosis, remains unclear. However, pro-inflammatory cytokines seem to be involved and might be used to monitor the course of the
disease. It has been also shown that B. burgdorferi protects itself from elimination by modulating function of the host’s immune system.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the serum and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) concentrations of selected cytokines in patients with neuroborreliosis and their change during antibiotic treatment.


The group of 25 patients was examined, all undergoing antibiotic therapy due to meningitis caused by Borrelia burgdorferi infection. The group included 10 (40%) females and 15 (60%) males in the mean age x = 42,3 years. The control group for serum measurements consisted of 25 healthy individuals (mean age x =43, 1) while control group for CSF study included 10 patients (aged x = 53,5 years) from whom CSF with normal parameters was taken during diagnostic procedures neurosurgical. We examined serum and CSF before and after antibiotics for concentrations of interferon-gamma (INF-gamma), interleukin-6 (IL-6), interleukin-12 (IL-12) and interleukin-15 (IL-15).


In the first examination the significant increase of IFN-gamma, IL-6, IL-2, IL-15 serum and CSF concentration was detected in comparison to control group. After 4-weeks antibiotic treatment the concentrations of studied cytokines decreased significantly in serum as well as in CSF but remained increased in comparison with controls.


Although antibiotic treatment leads to withdrawal of clinical symptoms of neuroborreliosis and normalization of CSF general parameters, pro-inflammatory cytokines’ concentrations in serum and CSF remain elevated. It may be explained by the persistence of inflammatory conditions, perhaps related to surviving of a fraction of Borrelia burgdorferi spirochetes within CNS tissue. This phenomenon might lead to development of chronic CNS lesions.

Pol Merkur Lekarski. 2007 Apr;22(130):275-9. Clinical Trial; English Abstract

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