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F1000Res. 2013 Jan 28;2:25. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.2-25.v1. eCollection 2013.

Association of spirochetal infection with Morgellons disease.

Author information

1
International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society, Bethesda, MD, 20827, USA.
2
Department of Biology and Environmental Science, University of New Haven, West Haven, CT, 06516, USA.
3
Australian Biologics, Sydney, 2000, Australia.
4
Department of Pathology, Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, Sylmar, CA, 91342, USA.

Abstract

Morgellons disease (MD) is an emerging multisystem illness characterized by skin lesions with unusual filaments embedded in or projecting from epithelial tissue. Filament formation results from abnormal keratin and collagen expression by epithelial-based keratinocytes and fibroblasts. Recent research comparing MD to bovine digital dermatitis, an animal infectious disease with similar skin features, provided clues that spirochetal infection could play an important role in the human disease as it does in the animal illness. Based on histological staining, immunofluorescent staining, electron microscopic imaging and polymerase chain reaction, we report the detection of Borrelia spirochetes in dermatological tissue of  four randomly-selected MD patients. The association of MD with spirochetal infection provides evidence that this infection may be a significant factor in the illness and refutes claims that MD lesions are self-inflicted and that people suffering from this disorder are delusional. Molecular characterization of the Borrelia spirochetes found in MD patients is warranted.

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