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J Clin Neurosci. 2002 Sep;9(5):525-9.

High frequency of systemic mycoplasmal infections in Gulf War veterans and civilians with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

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  • 1Molecular Biology Laboratory, Department of General Surgery, University Hospital Muenster, Muenster, Germany. gnicolson@immed.org

Abstract

The presence of systemic mycoplasmal infections in the blood of Gulf War veterans (n=8) and civilians (n=28) with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and age matched controls (n=70) was investigated by detecting mycoplasma gene sequences with forensic Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and back hybridization with a radiolabeled internal oligonucleotide probe. Almost all ALS patients (30/36 or approximately 83%) showed evidence of Mycoplasma species in blood samples, whereas <9% of controls had blood mycoplasmal infections (P<0.001). Using PCR ALS patients with a positive test for any mycoplasmal infection were investigated for the presence of M. fermentans, M. pneumoniae, M. hominis and M. penetrans in their blood. All Gulf War veterans with ALS were positive for M. fermentans, except one that was positive for M. genitalium. In contrast, the 22/28 civilians with detectable mycoplasmal infections had M. fermentans (13/22, 59%) as well as other Mycoplasama species in their blood, and two of the civilian ALS patients had multiple mycoplasma species (M. fermentans plus M. hominis). Of the few control patients that were positive, only two patients (2/70, 2.8%) were positive for M. fermentans (P<0.001). The results support the suggestion that infectious agents may play a role in the pathogenesis and/or progression of ALS, or alternatively ALS patients are extremely susceptible to systemic mycoplasmal infections.

PMID:
12383408
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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