Lyme disease can affect the central nervous system causing a B-cell-predominant lymphocytic pleocytosis. Since most reactions to infection in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) are typically T-cell predominant, a B-cell-predominant lymphocytosis raises concern for lymphoma. We present 3 Lyme neuroborreliosis cases in order to illustrate the challenging cytomorphological and immunophenotypic features of their CSF specimens. Three male patients who presented with central nervous system manifestations were diagnosed with Lyme disease. The clinical presentation, laboratory tests, CSF cytological examination and flow-cytometric studies were described for each case. CSF cytology showed lymphocytic pleocytosis with increased plasmacytoid cells and/or plasma cells. Flow cytometry showed the presence of polytypic B lymphocytes with evidence of plasmacytic differentiation in 2 cases. In all cases, Lyme disease was confirmed by the Lyme screening test and Western blotting. In such cases of Lyme neuroborreliosis, flow cytometry of CSF samples employing plasmacytic markers and cytoplasmic light-chain analysis is diagnostically helpful to exclude lymphoma.

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