Association between multiple sclerosis and cystic structures in cerebrospinal fluid

Infection. 2001 Dec;29(6):315-9. doi: 10.1007/s15010-001-9144-y.


Background: The aim of the study was to search for infectious agents in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Patients and methods: CSF from ten patients with the diagnosis relapsing remitting MS and from five controls without MS were examined by transmission electron microscopy (TEM), dark field microscopy (DF), interference contrast microscopy (ICM) and UV-microscopic examination of acridine orange staining (AO). All CSF samples from patients and controls were cultured.

Results: Cystic structures were observed in CSF of all ten patients by AO and TEM. DF revealed eight cyst-positive patients out of nine. One of five control persons had such structures in the CSF; this person had suffered from erythema migrans. Spirochete or rod-like structures emerged after culturing two of the MS patient CSF samples and these structures could be propagated.

Conclusion: A significant association of CSF cysts and MS was identified in this small study among residents in a coastal area of southern Norway. The cysts could be of spirochetal origin. Our study may encourage other researchers to study larger patient groups.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cysts / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Cysts / microbiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / microbiology*
  • Norway
  • Spirochaetaceae / isolation & purification
  • Spirochaetales Infections / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Spirochaetales Infections / complications*