Central nervous system infection caused by Borrelia burgdorferi. Clinico-pathological correlation of three post-mortem cases.

Published Date
Folia Neuropathologica
Folia Neuropathol. 1999;37(1):43-51
Bertrand E
Szpak GM
Piłkowska E
Habib N
Lipczyńska-Lojkowska W
Rudnicka A
Tylewska-Wierzbanowska S
Kulczycki J

The spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi (B. burgdorferi) may cause severe meningoencephalomyelitis as the sole manifestation of Lyme borreliosis. We would like to present three such cases, where definite neuroborreliosis was clinically diagnosed in two cases and possible neuroborreliosis was recognized in one case. Alive spirochetes were isolated and cultured from blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in both definite cases. B. burgdorferi as the causative agent of the infection was confirmed in CSF by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in one definite case. In the possible case spirochetes were cultured from blood and CSF. Alive spirochetes were not isolated, however anti-B. burgdorferi antibody value in serum was significantly elevated. On necropsy gross examination brain edema without focal changes was detected in two cases. Cerebral atrophy was seen in Case 3. Microscopically, lymphocytic infiltrates, microglial diffuse and nodular activation, spongiform changes, diffuse demyelination of the cerebral and cerebellar white matter, and diffuse astrocytosis, were characteristic pathological features in all presented cases. Multifocal, perivascular degenerative changes in the cerebral and cerebellar white matter were observed in the first case. Inflammatory changes in the nuclei and roots of cranial nerves were present in the third case.