Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lyme does not cause Alzheimer's disease

All disease results from the interplay of genes and environment. DNA, whose mysteries are slowly being unravelled, is the blue-print of everything we are and everything we will be. Four base pairs- codons- genes- make proteins which control everything else. Infections: viruses, parasites, bacteria--in some cases Borrelia burdorferi, become environmental factors which interact within a genetically encoded milieu. The relative importance of heredity and environment vary greatly depending on the disease. For example, if you are born with the cystic fibrosis gene your fate is predetermined before you are born. On the other hand, as with many other diseases--cancers, diabetes, coronary heart disease, multiple sclerosis and others, this interplay of genes and environment is no so easy to predict.

Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, lupus, arthritis and many other diseases are not caused by Lyme disease, or at least directly, as many patients mistakenly believe. Lyme may be an environmental factor associated with many diseases.

Susceptibility to Lyme is genetically coded and so is the virulence of a particle strain of the Lyme bacteria. In general, patients with chronic Lyme disease have central nervous system (brain) involvement, more often than not. Their clinical features are all quite different.

Borrelia burdorferi, unlike most other bacteria, is able to readily cross the blood brain barrier-- taking up residence within the brain. Inside the brain the spirochetes are seen as: atypical cystic forms, granular forms, blebs, rolled forms, colonies, rings, stretched strands, spherules and others.

Associated neuro-inflamation is complex and has been well described. Inflammation occurs as Bb encounters local immune cells such as macrophages and dendritic cells. Cytokines and chemokines induce inflammatory responses. Other immune cells, killer T-cells and B cells are activated. Bb can invade local glial cells and astrocytes. OspA is upregulated which induces apoptosis (cell death). Neurotoxins are produced. Nitric oxide and quinolinic acid have neuro-toxic effects. Autoimmune reactions also occur. There are different models of autoimmunity. Perhaps both molecular mimicry and Innocent bystander mechanisms occur. Lyme spirochetes have been observed in patients with concomitant Alzheimer's disease. Lyme does not cause Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's disease has been studied for many decades. Various genetic mechanisms have been clearly established. Pathologically, Alzheimer's is characterized by an accumulation of amyloid protein in the brain neurofibrillary "plaques and tangles" and tau proteins. In animal models it has been shown that Alzheimer's does not occur when the protein which regulates the degradation of amyloid precursor is up-regulated.

Alzheimer's disease is considered the most common type of dementia. Dementia is characterized by chronic, progressive, global loss of cognitive functions. Numerous forms of dementia have been described. BSE (mad cow disease) is called prion disease. It is associated with mutated proteins in the brain. Lewey body dementia is associated with Parkinson's disease.

Rare genetic disorders, such as forms of porphyria can be associated with dementia (The madness of King George). Dementia may be the result of min-strokes and many other syndromes to numerous to list here. These syndromes may appear similar in the peri-morbid state, but they have clear differences in the earlier stages of the disease.

Of course, dementia can be associated with infection. For example, HIV and chronic CNS fungal infection are established causes of dementia. The dementia which most closely resembles Lyme dementia--neuroborreliosis associated dementia, is the dementia of neuro-syphilis. Syphilitic dementia is called "general paresis" and is known to be the cause of death of many historical characters.

Thankfully, most patients with neuroborreliosis do not develop dementia. They may suffer with severe cognitive deficits but these deficits are not global in nature. Patients usually maintain the ability to perform most activities of daily living. Certain cognitive processes in most Lyme patients remain relatively unaffected. SPECT/PET scans show patchy dysfunction. In Alzheimer's disease, the scans are global--not spotty.

Make no mistake. Neuroborreliosis is a devastating disease. Its treatment remains challenging. Still, many patients experience remarkable recoveries/remissions.

Amongst many in the Lyme community there is a reductionist tendency to oversimplify and claim that everything is caused by Lyme disease. This is neither true nor helpful.

Both sides must learn to speak a common language to find areas of disagreement and agreement.

14 comments:

LYMELAURA said...

So interesting your post!
For a long time I had memory loss, forgetting words, hearing alteration, increased smell, bells palsy, blurry vision, kicked clinical depression, sleeping problems, tingling and numbness in extremities and everything else related with neurological Lyme Disease; and all that IS GONE WITH LONG TERM ANTIBIOTIC AND ANTIPARASITIC TREATMENTS; Alzheimer won't go away with Amoxicillin, right?
My wonder is how and where would I be if didn't have those treatments and couldn't keep on been treated?
The answer is painful and obvious; quadriplegic and with symptoms like Alzheimer...? May God protect us and permit us to have appropriate treatments and Doctors prepared to tell the difference between these illnesses!

Superbrain said...

Bravo!! Brilliant as usual. We are so fortunate to have doctors like LymeMD around.

glytzhkof said...

Great read. I definitely agree that there is a tendency in the community to claim that Lyme causes everything - and that this is a big reason why the topic isn't taken seriously by many doctors. With all the controversy surrounding Lyme, the big risk is that the disease ends up being seen as a gold mine for all kinds of "alternate treatment" proponents.

Lyme is serious stuff, it wears your body and immune system down so you become vulnerable to all kinds of other problems over time - that's what happened to me, and I guess this is why it can seem like such a "trigger" for all kinds of serious diseases. It's frustrating to see so few serious doctors take it seriously. Thank God you have the courage and stamina to continue.

With regards to alternate treatments, you have been skeptical to Salt / C in earlier posts. Is there any new evidence to support the use of this protocol as a maintenance scheme when off antibiotics?

Scott Dit said...

Yes, thanks, especially the final paragraph. Throughout your blog I see reference to "burdorferi" - isn't it "burgdorferi" after researcher Willy Burgdorfer? Thanks again for your candor and thoughtful approaches.

onbam said...

This comment is in response to an old post on sexual transmission.

That the organism is found in blood, urine, semen and tears was documented by the late Lida Mattman. You can see this here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WozrCFW0mRM
This finding is presented at around 45 minutes in.

That it can cross the mucosa is indicated here:
http://www.ajtmh.org/cgi/reprint/35/2/355.pdf
http://www.ctlymedisease.org/pdf/bbinfectiousagent.pdf (see section VI)

And that it can pass through a condom is established by the fact that it's granular form is the same size of HIV (http://www.jneuroinflammation.com/content/5/1/40), and by the fact that HIV can pass through ~30% of condoms (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1411838)

Furthermore, I learned from Stephen Barthold, of the Barthold and Luft study, that the spirochete's infectious dose is 1 organism, in contrast to HIV's many thousands.



It thus seems that the only sex can be safe if is being on antibiotics completely purges the organism from body fluids. Any idea as to whether or not this is the case?

Lyme report: Montgomery County, MD said...

I am a lousy speller. B. burgdorferi is not on my spell checker. I skip letters.
I have met Willie Burdorfer--it was an honor. Thank you for correcting my misspelling.
The bacteria is indeed called Borrelia burgdorferi. Keep missing that G---thanks.

Dawn said...

http://www.lyme-disease-research-database.com/alan-macdonald-transcription.html

Nickname said...

I don't follow. The cause of Alzheimer's is unknown. They don't even know if it has a genetic component or not. How can you say a borrelia infection of the brain doesn't cause a brain disease when you don't know its cause? They are finding borrelia in Alzheimer's patient's brains at autopsy, so I would have to think that it may at least play a role if not be the caustive organism. You don't provide any sources to back up your claims so I am not sure how you came to this conclusion. Dr Alan McDonald has done investigations regarding lyme and Alzheimer's as have others, so I am surprised anyone is categorically ruling it out at this point with so much unknown.

sheetzj said...

with regards to glytzhkof. . . Most Doctors can't say that lyme causes diseases like Alzheimer's because pharmaceutical companies are suing them! Doctors can't treat lyme the way it should be treated. This forces lyme patients to get their medication any way they can.

Caveat Emptor said...

How was it an honor to meet the man who actually injected Bb spirochetes into ticks. Think that was for fun or for some bloody Plum Island biowarfare development?

And I agree with the posts that assert that you nor anyone cannot say Bb does not directly cause Alzheimers, Parkinsons, MS, ALS, etc.

Almost sounds like propaganda to silence those like Mattman, McDonald and Harvey, who researched it for years.

Alzheimer Disease said...

Patients who have Alzheimer’s disease have cases of paranoia and hallucinations that make them see people or hear voices that are not real. The greatest concern for hallucinations and paranoia is the case where patients develop aggressive behaviors because they suspect someone is trying to harm them. Some patients who have cars will try to drive to the jobs they worked 20 years ago because their memory is distorted. The risk of falling is also rampant among Alzheimer’s patients.

Alzheimer’s clinic Toronto

Mary said...

http://www.jneuroinflammation.com/content/8/1/90
Alzheimer's disease - a neurospirochetosis. Analysis of the evidence following Koch's and Hill's criteria
Miklossy 2011

Mary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Berry said...

Is this a hoax?