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Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2013 Oct;20(10):1578-84. doi: 10.1128/CVI.00353-13. Epub 2013 Aug 14.

Diagnostic value of cytokines and chemokines in lyme neuroborreliosis.

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Institute of Microbiology and Immunology, Medical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia.


The aims of the present study were to assess the concentrations of different cytokines and chemokines in blood serum and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples of patients with Lyme neuroborreliosis and to identify the possible marker(s) that would enable a distinction between clinically evident and suspected Lyme neuroborreliosis, as well as between Lyme neuroborreliosis and tick-borne encephalitis (TBE). Our additional interest was to evaluate the relationship between cytokine and chemokine concentrations and Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato isolation from CSF, as well as intrathecal synthesis of specific borrelial antibodies. We found that higher concentrations of CXCL13 and lower concentrations of interleukin 10 (IL-10) in serum were associated with higher odds for clinically evident Lyme neuroborreliosis compared to suspected Lyme neuroborreliosis, as well as to TBE. The concentrations of IL-2, IL-5, IL-6, IL-10, and CXCL13 in the CSF were higher in patients with evident Lyme neuroborreliosis than in those who were only suspected to have the disease. A comparison of CSF cytokine and chemokine levels in patients with and without intrathecal synthesis of specific borrelial antibodies revealed that CXCL13 CSF concentration is significantly associated with intrathecal synthesis of borrelial antibodies. A comparison of the cytokine and chemokine CSF concentrations in patients with clinically evident Lyme neuroborreliosis according to CSF culture results revealed that higher concentrations of gamma interferon (IFN-γ) were associated with lower odds of Borrelia isolation. Although several differences in the blood serum and CSF concentrations of various cytokines and chemokines between the groups were found, the distinctive power of the majority of these findings is low. Further research on well-defined groups of patients is needed to appraise the potential diagnostic usefulness of these concentrations.

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