Adjunctive Corticosteroids for Lyme Neuroborreliosis Peripheral Facial Palsy-A Prospective Study With Historical Controls

Clin Infect Dis. 2021 Oct 5;73(7):1211-1215. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciab370.


Background: Lyme neuroborreliosis peripheral facial palsy (LNB PFP) and idiopathic PFP, Bell's palsy (BP), are the most common causes of facial palsy in borrelia-endemic areas and are clinically similar. Early treatment with corticosteroids has been shown to be effective in Bell's palsy, and antibiotics improve the outcome in LNB. However, there is a lack of knowledge on how the addition of corticosteroids to standard antibiotic treatment affects the outcome in LNB PFP.

Methods: This prospective, open trial with historical controls was conducted at 2 large hospitals in western Sweden between 2011 and 2018. Adults who presented with LNB PFP were included in the study group and were treated with oral doxycycline 200 mg twice daily for 10 days and prednisolone 60 mg once daily for 5 days, then tapered over 5 days. The historical controls were adult patients with LNB PFP included in previous studies and treated with oral doxycycline. Both groups underwent a follow-up lumbar puncture and were followed until complete recovery or for 12 months.

Results: Fifty-seven patients were included, 27 in the study group and 30 in the control group. Two patients (7%) in the study group and 6 patients (20%) in the control group suffered from sequelae at the end follow-up. There was no statistically significant difference between the groups, either in the proportion of patients with sequelae or in the decline in cerebrospinal fluid mononuclear cell count.

Conclusions: Adjunctive corticosteroids neither improve nor impair the outcome for patients with LNB PFP treated with doxycycline.

Keywords: Borrelia burgdorferi; Lyme disease; Lyme neuroborreliosis; corticosteroids; peripheral facial palsy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Doxycycline / therapeutic use
  • Facial Paralysis* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Lyme Neuroborreliosis* / drug therapy
  • Prospective Studies


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Doxycycline

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