Saturday, December 15, 2018

Biofilm induced inflammation in mouse model and rapid relapsers

Thank you, Dr. Zhang, for your dedication and hard work.  The latest paper published October 11, 2018 is groundbreaking. 
The latest research has moved from the test tube to the mouse model.  Test tube research cannot be applied directly to human medical care and neither animal model research, but it moves the ball closer to the goal.
Doctor Zhang has both an MD and a PhD. He is highly skilled researcher but also has the bona fides to discus clinical, human disease with credibility. 
He speaks of PTLDS, using the term frequently with words carefully chosen. He states the cause of PTLDS is unknown.  But the hypothesis that persistent infection plays a large role is written between the lines. 
I must thank him first for describing 2 types of PTLDS.  This is something I have long railed about.  In the first type(type 1 PTLDS) a patient receives early treatment and experiences clinical failure. In the second (type 2 PTLDS), the diagnosis is delayed and therefore early treatment is never provided. 
 The 4 NIH sponsored clinical trials examined only type 1 PTLDS.  The most recent trial was performed more than 12 years ago. The trials were limited with small patient numbers and have been controversial since day one.  The meaning and interpretation of the study results has been hotly contested.  Dr. Fallon’s expressed beliefs which contradict those of the IDSA were recently described on these pages. 
The IDSA has recently stated that more funding for Lyme research is unnecessary since all is already known. This is frightening. When is more data, evidence, information and science a bad thing?  I thought suppression of scientific inquiry is something left behind with the middle ages. 
For me one of the clinical mysteries has been the rapidity with which clinical symptoms may relapse when antibiotics are stopped. I think the latest study findings provide clarity here. 
 Lyme bacteria are pleomorphic and exhibit a great degree of phenotypic variability.  In layman’s words “they act like shape shifting aliens” which have widely invaded host bodies. 
The Lyme bacterium is a long, thin, twisted bacteria, a spirochete of the genus Borrelia. There are various species and strains which may cause human disease. 
 Dr. Zhang describes 3-4 variations. The spirochetes may be aggregated in a rapidly growing biomass mathematically referred to as a logarithmic growth phase.  One might think this group with its very high numbers causes the most harm and one would be wrong.  a second group he calls microcolonies (aggregated biofilm like colonies). This is a stationary group showing no active growth.  Individual spirochetes, free swimming are planktonic variants.  In microbiology, planktonic bacteria are distinguished from organisms confined to biofilms.  Most of the planktonic bacteria are round forms. This is not something I have seen described with any other pathogenic bacteria. 
Mice joints are infected (inoculated) with one of the 3 forms.  The biofilm forms caused the greatest joint inflammation in the shortest time.  Planktonic forms came in second place and the least joint inflammation was seen with the large number of actively growing spirochetes.  

The Lyme bacteria which are easily killed do not appear to be the problem. The few do more harm than the many. 
Doctor Zhang suggests that the host may be inoculated with biofilm colonies at the time of the tick bite. I suspect it doesn’t matter that much. There is fluidity.  Round forms and biofilm forms arise quickly irrespective of the inoculum. 
Persister forms express more virulence factors such as decorin binding protein, noted in the paper. 
That brings us back to the question: why do patients relapse quick when antibiotics are withdrawn?

This is what I envision.  The bacteria that cause relapse are dug in and battle hardened and barely kept in check with long term antibiotics. 
Any Star Trek fans? The Starship Enterprise (us) is shooting missiles(antibiotics) at the enemy Klingon ship (Lyme persisters). A force shield is in place and the projectiles can’t penetrate enemy strongholds.   When the Enterprise runs out of ammo the enemy drops it shields and the Klingons open fire. Ouch.


Bryan Rosner said...

live bee venom... miraculous. and cheap.

lymie said...

Persisters apparently also have more efflux pump activity.

So, the question is how do you deal with these different forms.

I did not realize until reading this blog that the clinical trials did not include people like me who didn't get any treatment for 3 years, for lyme, and 4 years for babesia. Babesia now gone, but not lyme, despite a great deal of treatment. It is just barely held down with treatment.

This is one evil bug.

Lyme report: Montgomery County, MD said...

We need to look at: immune system, inflammation, increasing function and antibiotic options. Immune modulators like IVIG -- Bee Venom? -- of which I know nothing may be very helpful. We haven't figured it out yet.