Mixed Borrelia burgdorferi and Helicobacter pylori Biofilms in Morgellons Disease Dermatological Specimens†
Received: 15 March 2019 / Revised: 17 April 2019 / Accepted: 14 May 2019 / Published: 17 May 2019
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Background: Morgellons disease (MD) is a dermopathy that is associated with tick-borne illness. It is characterized by spontaneously developing skin lesions containing embedded or projecting filaments, and patients may also experience symptoms resembling those of Lyme disease (LD) including musculoskeletal, neurological and cardiovascular manifestations. Various species of Borrelia and co-infecting pathogens have been detected in body fluids and tissue specimens from MD patients. We sought to investigate the coexistence of Borrelia burgdorferi(Bb) and Helicobacter pylori(Hp) in skin specimens from MD subjects, and to characterize their association with mixed amyloid biofilm development.
Methods: Testing for Bb and Hp was performed on dermatological specimens from 14 MD patients using tissue culture, immunohistochemical (IHC) staining, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) and confocal microscopy. Markers for amyloid and biofilm formation were investigated using histochemical and IHC staining.
Results: Bb and Hp were detected in dermatological tissue taken from MD lesions. Bb and Hp tended to co-localize in foci within the epithelial tissue. Skin sections exhibiting foci of co-infecting Bb and Hp contained amyloid markers including β-amyloid protein, thioflavin and phosphorylated tau. The biofilm marker alginate was also found in the sections.
Conclusions: Mixed Bb and Hp biofilms containing β-amyloid and phosphorylated tau may play a role in the evolution of MD
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