Even after antibiotic treatment, some Lyme disease patients suffer from an array of symptoms including neurological issues that greatly diminish their quality of life. Brain scans of these patients show persistent neuroinflammation, but the cause has been unclear.
Tulane University researchers have discovered that remnants of B. burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, may contribute to inflammation in both the central and peripheral nervous systems. These remnants are significantly more inflammatory than live, intact bacteria. Their results were published in Scientific Reports.
Lead researcher Geetha Parthasarathy, PhD, assistant professor of immunology at the Tulane National Primate Research Center, explored the effects of B. burgdorferi remnants on nervous system tissue using a nonhuman primate model, investigating the effects on both the frontal cortex and dorsal root ganglion.
Inflammatory markers in these areas were several times higher in samples exposed to remnants of B. burgdorferi than in samples exposed to live bacteria, and several times higher in the frontal cortex than the dorsal root ganglion. The bacterial remnants also caused cell death in brain neurons.
“As neuroinflammation is the basis of many neurological disorders, lingering inflammation in the brain due to these unresolved fragments could cause long term health consequences,” Parthasarathy said.
Scientists still don’t know how B. burgdorferi spirochetes find their way into brain tissue. In longstanding or persistent Lyme disease infections, bacterial spirochetes may harbor inside major organs, including the heart and brain, where they could continue to wreak havoc over time. Antibiotics may kill the bacteria in these organs, but remnants could remain if the body cannot adequately eliminate them.
Parthasarathy said the findings may explain some of the neurological symptoms and conditions that patients with persistent Lyme infections can experience. She plans future studies to investigate new anti-inflammatory therapies for antibiotic-resistant neuroinflammation and to explore why the body may not be clearing these bacterial remnants.
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3 thoughts on “Borrelia burgdorferi fragments in the nervous system could be a cause of persistent symptoms post-treatment: Tulane study”
Borrelia produces cysts that are resistant to Abx Rx and unless you break open the cysts with metronidazole or herbs the borrelia infection persists.
How much longer until we stop being misled with clever diversion tactics and Lyme disease is admitted to be an ongoing infection that is not cured with 2 weeks of antibiotics? Multiple human and animal studies have shown this. It’s taken nearly 50 years for persistent symptoms to even be acknowledged, but instead of simply admitting there is not yet a cure for this inflammatory, immune-suppressing, debilitating illness, we’re simply supposed to believe it’s just some post-treatment syndrome due to dead bacteria. Don’t get me wrong, it’s better than telling patients “it’s all in your head” and referring psychological support, but the Lyme community, growing larger and larger by the day, does not accept this, and we will fight for justice and validation for the wrongs that have been done, that have broken and taken so many lives over the years.
Having recently been diagnosed with neuro lymes myself at age 31, I feel quite disheartened by the lack of acknowledgement from a big part of the medical community that this is even a problem. There are indications that there are solutions out there, like the blue belly lizard in California, but it feels like it’s just not a priority.