Background: Persistent symptoms after treatment of neuroborreliosis (NB) are well-documented, although the causative mechanisms are mainly unknown. The effect of repeated antibiotic treatment has not been studied in detail. The aim of this study was to determine whether: (1) persistent symptoms improve with doxycycline treatment; (2) doxycycline has an influence on systemic cytokine responses, and; (3) improvement of symptoms could be due to doxycycline-mediated immunomodulation.
Methods/design: 15 NB patients with persistent symptoms ≥6 months post-treatment were double-blindly randomized to receive 200 mg of doxycycline or a placebo for three weeks. After a six-week wash-out period, a cross-over with a three-week course of a placebo or doxycycline was conducted. The primary outcome measures were improvement of persistent symptoms assessed by neurological examinations, a symptom severity score and estimation of the quality of life. The secondary outcome measure was changes in systemic cytokine responses.
Results: All 15 patients finished the study. No doxycycline-mediated improvement of post-treatment symptoms or quality of life was observed. Nor could any doxycycline-mediated changes in systemic cytokine responses be detected. The study was completed without any serious adverse events.
Discussion: No doxycycline-mediated improvement of post-treatment symptoms or quality of life was observed. Nor could any doxycycline-mediated changes in systemic cytokine responses be detected. The study was completed without any serious adverse events. To conclude, in this pilot study, doxycycline-treatment did not lead to any improvement of either the persistent symptoms or quality of life in post-NB patients. Accordingly, doxycycline does not seem to be the optimal treatment of diverse persistent symptoms post-NB. However, the results need to be confirmed in larger studies.
Trial registration: NCT01205464 (clinicaltrials.gov).