Six versus two weeks treatment with doxycycline in Lyme neuroborreliosis: the protocol of a multicentre, non-inferiority, double-blinded and randomised controlled trial

BMJ Open. 2019 Jun 14;9(6):e027083. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-027083.


Introduction: Current treatment guidelines for European Lyme neuroborreliosis (LNB) recommend cephalosporins, penicillin or doxycycline for 14-28 days but evidence for optimal treatment length is poor. Treatment lengths in clinical practice tend to exceed the recommendations. Most patients experience a rapid improvement of symptoms and neurological findings within days of treatment, but some report long-term complaints. The underlying mechanisms of remaining complaints are debated, and theories as ongoing chronic infection with Borrelia burgdorferi, dysregulated immune responses, genetic predisposition, coinfection with multiple tick-borne pathogens, structural changes in CNS and personal traits have been suggested. The main purpose of our trial is to address the hypothesis of improved outcome after long-term antibiotic treatment of LNB, by comparing efficacy of treatment with 2 and 6 weeks courses of doxycycline.

Methods and analysis: The trial has a multicentre, non-inferiority, double-blinded design. One hundred and twenty patients diagnosed with LNB according to European Federation of Neurological Societies (EFNS)guidelines will be randomised to 6 or 2 weeks treatment with oral doxycycline. The patients will be followed for 12 months. The primary endpoint is improvement on a composite clinical score (CCS) from baseline to 6 months after inclusion. Secondary endpoints are improvements in the CCS 12 months after inclusion, fatigue scored on Fatigue Severity Scale, subjective symptoms on the Patient Health Questionnaire-15 scale, health-related quality of life scored on RAND 36-item short form health survey and safety as measured by side effects of the two treatment arms. Blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) are collected from inclusion and throughout the follow-up and a biobank will be established. The study started including patients in November 2015 and will continue throughout December 2019.

Ethics and dissemination: The study is approved by the Norwegian regional committees for medical and health research ethics and the Norwegian Medicines Agency. Data from the study will be published in peer-reviewed medical journals.

Trial registration number: 2015-001481-25.

Keywords: adult neurology; infectious disease/HIV; infectious diseases.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial Protocol
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / drug effects
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Doxycycline / administration & dosage*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Humans
  • Lyme Neuroborreliosis / drug therapy*
  • Lyme Neuroborreliosis / physiopathology
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic
  • Norway
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Doxycycline