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The intrathecal antibody response to Borrelia burgdorferi was evaluated in American and West German patients with
Lyme neuroborreliosis. By an antibody capture enzyme immunoassay, 12 (92%) of 13 patients from the USA with
Lyme meningitis were found to have intrathecal antibody production to B. burgdorferi, usually of multiple isotypes, most commonly IgA. Of 12 patients with putative late central nervous system manifestations of
Lyme disease, 5 (42%) had local production of IgG or IgA spirochetal antibody, but cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) abnormalities could not be demonstrated in 6 patients with late peripheral nervous system manifestations of the disorder. Compared with American patients, 30 European patients with neuroborreliosis had significantly higher CSF:serum ratios of specific antibody both early and late in the illness. Intrathecal antibody determinations are the most specific diagnostic test currently available for
Lyme neuroborreliosis, but local antibody production in CSF is an inconsistent finding in American patients with late neurologic manifestations of the disorder.