Lyme neuroborreliosis (LNB) designates the nervous system disorders caused by the tick-borne spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb). The clinical syndromes are usually distinct and are classified as early and the rare late or chronic LNB. Early LNB occurs 3-6 weeks after infection most frequently as a lymphocytic meningoradiculoneuritis (LMR). Symptoms are mainly due to a painful sensory radiculitis and a multifocal motor radiculo-neuritis. Fifty percent have cranial nerve involvement predominantly uni- or bilateral facial nerve palsies. Meningitic symptoms occur primarily in children. Nerve biopsies, autopsies, animal models, and nerve conduction studies showed that the pathology is a lymphocytic perineuritis leading to multisegmental axonal injury of nerve roots, spinal ganglia, and distal nerve segments. Due to meningeal and root inflammation cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) shows lymphocytic inflammation. The only evidence that Bb causes peripheral neuropathy without CSF inflammation is seen in patients with acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans (ACA), a chronic dermatoborreliosis. In the rare chronic or late LNB the pathology and thus the clinical presentation is primarily due to chronic meningitis and meningovascular CNS involvement, whereas the peripheral nervous system is not primarily affected. In early and late LNB the diagnosis is based on a characteristic clinical appearance and CSF inflammation with Bb-specific intrathecal antibody production. Both conditions, but not the ACA-associated neuropathy, respond to antibiotic therapy.
Handbook of Clinical Neurology, 2013, Vol 115, p. 559-75