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The Causes of Alzheimers:
Could Lyme Ever Be a Cause?

Decades ago pathologist Dr. Alan McDonald was doing autopsies of still births and found Lyme spirochete bacteria in some of these infants. He felt they were the cause of some of these deaths.

Later, he found spirochetes and many different shapes of Lyme bacteria in the brains of some Alzheimer's patients. He feels a subgroup of patients with clinical and tissue Alzheimer's are actually suffering from an infectious cause—Lyme or Borrelia. He reports, however, that it takes many very long hours to be able to locate Lyme bacteria in a tissue sample of an Alzheimer's victim. If one is not patient and careful under the microscope, it is easy to miss them.

Some articles below discuss this issue.

Borrelia burgdorferi persists in the brain in chronic lyme neuroborreliosis and may be associated with Alzheimer disease.

Miklossy J, Khalili K, Gern L, Ericson RL, Darekar P, Bolle L, Hurlimann J, Paster BJ.

The cause, or causes, of the vast majority of Alzheimer's disease cases are unknown. A number of contributing factors have been postulated, including infection. It has long been known that the spirochete Treponema pallidum, which is the infective agent for syphilis, can in its late stages cause dementia, chronic inflammation, cortical atrophy and amyloid deposition. Spirochetes of unidentified types and strains have previously been observed in the blood, CSF and brain of 14 AD patients tested and absent in 13 controls. In three of these AD cases spirochetes were grown in a medium selective for Borrelia burgdorferi. In the present study, the phylogenetic analysis of these spirochetes was made. Positive identification of the agent as Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto was based on genetic and molecular analyses. Borrelia antigens and genes were co-localized with beta-amyloid deposits in these AD cases. The data indicate that Borrelia burgdorferi may persist in the brain and be associated with amyloid plaques in AD. They suggest that these spirochetes, perhaps in an analogous fashion to Treponema pallidum, may contribute to dementia, cortical atrophy and amyloid deposition. Further in vitro and in vivo studies may bring more insight into the potential role of spirochetes in AD. J Alzheimers Dis. 2004 Dec;6(6):639-49; discussion 673-81.

Plaques of Alzheimer's disease originate from cysts of Borrelia burgdorferi, the Lyme disease spirochete.

Macdonald AB.

Here is hypothesized a truly revolutionary notion that rounded cystic forms of Borrelia burgdorferi are the root cause of the rounded structures called plaques in the Alzheimer brain. Rounded "plaques' in high density in brain tissue are emblematic of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Plaques may be conceptualized as rounded "pock mark-like" areas of brain tissue injury. In this century, in brain tissue of AD, plaques are Amyloid Plaques according to the most up to date textbooks. In the last century, however, Dr. Alois Alzheimer did not require amyloid as the pathogenesis for either the disease or for the origin of its plaques. Surely, amyloid is an event in AD, but it may not be the primal cause of AD. Indeed in plaques, amyloid is regularly represented by the "congophilic core" structure which is so named because the waxy amyloid material binds the congo red stain and is congophilic. However an accepted subset of plaques in AD is devoid of a congophilic amyloid core region (these plaques "cotton wool" type plaques, lack a central congophilic core structure). Furthermore, there is "plaque diversity" in Alzheimer's; small, medium and large plaques parallel variable cystic diameters for Borrelia burgdorferi. Perturbations of AD plaque structure (i.e. young plaques devoid of a central core and older plaques with or without a central core structure) offer room for an alternate pathway for explanation of ontogeny of the plaque structures. If amyloid is not required to initiate all of the possible plaques in Alzheimer's, is it possible that amyloid just a by product of a more fundamental primal path to dementia? If a byproduct status is assigned to amyloid in the realm of plaque formation, then is amyloid also an epiphenomenon rather than a primary pathogenesis for Alzheimer's disease. In the "anatomy is destiny" model, cysts of borrelia are always round. Why then not accept roundness as a fundamental "structure determines function" argument for the answer to the mystery of why Alzheimer plaques are always round? Parataxis causality, a concept borrowed from philosophy, is the error that comes from linking two events, which occur contemporaneously or in close proximity to one another with a cause and effect relationship. Parataxis tells us that what appears to be cause and effect in the couplet "amyloid plaque" merely by a proximity relationship may be "spurious causality" which is a cognitive dead end. Med Hypotheses. 2006 May 2; [Epub ahead of print]

Alzheimer's disease—a spirochetosis?

Miklossy J.

The aetiology of Alzheimer's disease (AD), which affects a large proportion of the aged population is unknown and the treatment unresolved. The role of beta amyloid protein (beta A4), derived from a larger amyloid precursor protein (APP) in AD is the subject of intense research. Here I report observations that in 14 autopsy cases with histopathologically confirmed AD, spirochetes were found in blood and cerebrospinal fluid and, moreover, could be isolated from brain tissue. Thirteen age-matched control cases were without spirochetes. Reference strains of spirochetes and those isolated from brains of AD patients, showed positive immunoreaction with monoclonal antibody against the beta amyloid precursor protein. These observations suggest that spirochetes may be one of the causes of AD and that they may be the source of the beta amyloid deposited in the AD brain. Neuroreport. 1993 Jul;4(7):841-8.

Beta-amyloid deposition and Alzheimer's type changes induced by Borrelia spirochetes.

Miklossy J, Kis A, Radenovic A, Miller L, Forro L, Martins R, Reiss K, Darbinian N, Darekar P, Mihaly L, Khalili K.

The pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease (AD) consist of beta-amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in affected brain areas. The processes, which drive this host reaction are unknown. To determine whether an analogous host reaction to that occurring in AD could be induced by infectious agents, we exposed mammalian glial and neuronal cells in vitro to Borrelia burgdorferi spirochetes and to the inflammatory bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Morphological changes analogous to the amyloid deposits of AD brain were observed following 2-8 weeks of exposure to the spirochetes. Increased levels of beta-amyloid precursor protein (AbetaPP) and hyperphosphorylated tau were also detected by Western blots of extracts of cultured cells that had been treated with spirochetes or LPS. These observations indicate that, by exposure to bacteria or to their toxic products, host responses similar in nature to those observed in AD may be induced. Neurobiol Aging. 2006 Feb;27(2):228-36.

Molecular and immunological evidence of oral Treponema [spirochete of syphilis] in the human brain and their association with Alzheimer's disease.

Riviere GR, Riviere KH, Smith KS.

The purpose of this investigation was to use molecular and immunological techniques to determine whether oral Treponema infected the human brain. Pieces of frontal lobe cortex from 34 subjects were analyzed with species-specific PCR and monoclonal antibodies. PCR detected Treponema in 14/16 Alzheimer's disease (AD) and 4/18 non-AD donors (P < 0.001), and AD specimens had more Treponema species than controls (P < 0.001). PCR also detected Treponema in trigeminal ganglia from three AD and two control donors. Cortex from 15/16 AD subjects and 6/18 controls contained Treponema pectinovorum and/or Treponema socranskii species-specific antigens (P < 0.01). T. pectinovorum and/or T. socranskii antigens were also found in trigeminal ganglia and pons from four embalmed cadavers, and 2/4 cadavers also had Treponema in the hippocampus. These findings suggest that oral Treponema may infect the brain via branches of the trigeminal nerve. Oral Microbiol Immunol. 2002 Apr;17(2):113-8.