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Lyme Disease And Immune System


Lyme Disease Subverts Immune System Prevents Future Protection

Lyme Disease Diagnosis – Johns Hopkins (3 of 5)

The bacteria that cause Lyme disease are able to trick an animals immune system into not launching a full-blown immune response or developing lasting immunity to the disease, report researchers at the University of California, Davis.

The discovery may explain why some human patients remain vulnerable to repeat infections by the same strain of bacteria, especially in regions where Lyme disease is prevalent. It also suggests that blood tests may not be an effective method for detecting previous exposure to Lyme disease, by far the most common vector-borne disease in the United States and Europe.

Findings from this mouse-based study are reported July 2 in the online scientific journal PLOS Pathogens, published by the Public Library of Science.

We demonstrated that an animal infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, the corkscrew-shaped bacteria that cause Lyme disease, launches only a short-lived immune response, and that protective immunity against repeat infections quickly wanes, said Nicole Baumgarth, a professor in the School of Veterinary Medicine and an authority on immune response to infectious diseases at the UC Davis Center for Comparative Medicine.

This study also suggests a possible mechanism responsible for the disappearance of antibodies following infection and subsequent treatment with antibiotics, she said.

Funding for the study was provided by grants from National Institutes of Health and National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Phase Three Later Months To Years

Also called late disseminated infection

Many infectious disease specialists believe that chronic Lyme disease does not exist, and that Lyme disease from a tick bite can be cured with a short course of antibiotics. It is possible that those who have undergone antibiotic treatments are suffering from the side effects of antibiotics, but more and more experts are coming around to the idea that Lyme disease can survive and cause long-term autoimmune symptoms when antibiotics dont work. We all know that antibiotics do not always work and can cause more problems.

  • Arthritis symptoms swollen, painful joints
  • Neurological symptoms numbness, tingling, shooting pains
  • Cognitive symptoms brain fog, short-term memory deficits, confusion
  • Mood disturbance depression
  • Abnormal heart rhythms and heart failure

Facial paralysis may also occur in this stage or stage two.

How Lyme Hides: Subverting The Immune System For Survival

People catch Lyme disease from ticks, who in turn get the bacteria from wild mice. But why dont mice get the same disease? We think its something to do with differences in the immune systems of mice and people. Tanja and Urmila are immunologists studying these differences at the Tufts Lyme Disease Initiative. They tell us about what theyre doing in the lab to try to understand how our own immune system contributes to Lyme disease.

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Risk Factors Of Chronic Disease

Prior or ongoing exposures to mold and mold toxins, heavy metals, and chemical volatile organic compounds vastly impact a persons capacity to fight infection.

People also have enormously different tolerances to different antimicrobial agents, both herbal and pharmaceutical. Some patients have great difficulty taking any antimicrobials at all because they cannot tolerate the die off, also known as a Herxheimer reaction.

A history of emotional trauma can result in immune dysfunction and difficulty fighting infection. Social and emotional support structures have been shown to enhance emotional well-being and boost immune competence. Lack of support adds an extra hurdle to treatment.

Physicians are taught in medical school, When a patient presents with multiple symptoms, search for the common denominator that explains everything. This axiom applies well to acute illness: if a person has been healthy until two weeks ago and then develops fever, muscle aches, abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea, all these symptoms can be explained by a single pathogen.

Although Western medicine has done a good job of addressing acute illness, it has not been nearly as successful in addressing chronic disease. The single-common-denominator paradigm of illness no longer applies there are usually multiple confounding issues. It takes detective work to uncover the assorted imbalances and restore people to good health.

Support Your Gut Health

Cascading Inflammation Associated with Lyme Arthritis Linked to ...

Many individuals with Lyme disease have gone through multiple rounds of antibiotics. While antibiotics can offer significant benefits to many Lyme sufferers, they also reduce levels of beneficial microorganisms in the GI tract. This allows less desirable opportunistic and pathogenic organisms, including various yeasts and bacteria, to proliferate.

The resulting imbalance in the gut microbiota can compromise immune function, digestion, and nutrient absorption. Furthermore, preliminary research suggests that Borrelia may directly infect the gastrointestinal tract. It is thus crucial to support the health of your gut if you have Lyme disease.

A growing body of research indicates that diet profoundly impacts gut health. There are certain foods you should prioritize to support your gut health, including:

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Autoimmune Diseases And Lyme Disease: Misdiagnosis Or Complication Of Lyme

As mentioned above, there are documented correlations between Lyme and autoimmune diseases. The evidence shows that Lyme disease may trigger an autoimmune disease, or it may mimic an autoimmune disease.

What does this mean for patients and physicians? It comes down to the importance of getting an accurate and timely diagnosis if you suspect Lyme or another tick-borne disease. The longer Lyme disease goes untreated, the stronger the chance that it will spread to multiple body systems and possibly trigger an autoimmune response.

Because Lyme disease symptoms mimic symptoms of so many other conditions, including autoimmune diseases, it is notoriously tricky to diagnose. One of the most common Lyme disease misdiagnoses is the autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis , characterized by chronic joint pain.

If a patient with Lyme is diagnosed with RA without the Lyme being detected and treated, not only can the arthritic symptoms of Lyme persist and worsen, but the Lyme can also go on to affect more systems, causing neurological and psychiatric symptoms, heart problems, and more. In rare cases, untreated Lyme can even be fatal.

Support Your Immune System

Your immune system requires an array of nutrients to function at its best. Furthermore, infection and stress deplete the body of critical micronutrients. Lets take a look at several of the micronutrients needed for a well-functioning immune system:

Vitamin D is frequently low in patients with persistent Lyme disease On top of that, Borrelia burgdorferi directly reduces vitamin D receptor expression in immune cells, increasing the need for vitamin D.

Vitamin D is critical for Lyme disease recovery. Daily sun exposure and the consumption of vitamin D-rich foods, including fatty cold-water fish and pastured egg yolks, support a healthy vitamin D status. However, supplementation is often necessary, especially during the fall and winter months.

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that regulates both the innate and adaptive branches of the immune system. The innate immune system is our set of frontline immune defenses, whereas the adaptive immune system is composed of specialized cells that target specific pathogens.

We need both branches of the immune system to battle Lyme, and vitamin A can help. Interestingly, vitamin A deficiency worsens Lyme arthritis in mice, whereas vitamin A replenishment reduces the harmful inflammatory response.

Zinc also inhibits complement activity. Complement is a part of the immune system that is excessively activated by Lyme infection and contributes to inflammation.

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It Starts With An Unusual Bacterium

Lyme disease can affect any organ or system within the body, including the brain, nervous system, muscles, joints, and heart. Most cases of Lyme disease in the U.S. are caused by a corkscrew-shaped spirochete called Borrelia burgdorferi. This organism has a unique way of evading the human immune system starting as early as when the tick bite occurs and has learned to survive in the human body even when aggressive treatment attacks are mounted against it.

Many Additional Complications Have Been Associated With Lyme Disease Complex:

Boys Lyme Disease Morphs into Autoimmune Disorder
  • Chronic inflammation associated with chronic infection results in many imbalances throughout the body. These will be discussed in detail in subsequent chapters.
  • Detoxification pathways get overloaded and fail to metabolize and excrete toxins efficiently.
  • Adrenal glands, which work hard to compensate for the ongoing stress, lose their reserve and in time become overtaxed, resulting in adrenal insufficiency. This not only induces fatigue, but also contributes to immune dysfunction.
  • Hypothyroidism is commoneven people with normal thyroid gland function can present with symptoms of hypothyroidism. They often are converting too much of their T4 hormone to reverse T3, a form that blocks thyroid action at the cellular level, rather than making the usable form of the hormone.
  • Insulin resistance leads to elevated insulin levels, resulting in increased inflammation, fatigue, and immune suppression.
  • The autonomic nervous system, which regulates the bodys automatic activities such as breathing, pulse, and body temperature, becomes destabilized. The resulting dysautonomia can cause chaotic manifestations: unstable blood pressure, both racing and slow pulse rates, difficulty breathing, heat and cold intolerance, anxiety, plus a host of other symptoms.
  • Immune dysregulation often results in autoimmunity, in which the immune system attacks its own cells.
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    History Of Lyme Disease

    In the 1960s and 1970s, something was very wrong in Connecticut. In a population of 12,000 living in three contiguous towns: Old Lyme, Lyme, and East Haddam, 39 children were diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and 12 adults were diagnosed with arthritis of unknown cause.

    In 1975, frustrated by the lack of answers from their medical community, two mothers became patient advocates, gathering information from residents that they passed on to the Connecticut State Department of Health and the Yale School of Medicine.

    Researchers were able to identify the disease and recognize its symptoms, but it wasnt until the early 80s that the actual cause was discovered. Willy Burgdorfer, a scientist who was studying Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, discovered the tick connection along with the bacterium, a spirochete, that caused Lyme. The bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, was named after him.

    Mechanism Of Immune Dysfunction In Lyme Disease

    To dissect the mechanisms behind this dysregulated response, Hastey et al. elucidated distinct stages of altered immune response using a mouse model of LD. In the first phase of infection, B cells accumulated in lymph nodes and induced antibodies in a TI manner and in the absence of germinal centers. In other infectious diseases, such as mumps and HIV, swollen lymph nodes are a frequent early symptom of infection. Normally, the areas in which T and B cells are found in lymph nodes are well-defined. However, in B. burgdorferi-infected mice, this typical architecture was disrupted, with loss of organized B cell follicles and T cell zones . Deterioration of B cell follicles, between days 5 and 10 post-infection occurred together with the presence of spirochetes within the lymph nodes . In addition, B cells began to accumulate in large numbers, reaching over 70% in some instances and disrupting normal T/B cell ratios .

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    Your Gut And Your Immune System

    Chronic infection is an underlying factor in most chronic illnesses. Our sugar-laden diet, GMO foods that kill beneficial bacteria, antibiotics, other antibacterial products, and many of the chemicals in our food supply deplete our beneficial bacteria, which wreaks havoc on our immune systems. This sets the stage for systemic, chronic fungal infections and parasites to multiply, permeate the gut, enter the bodys bloodstream, and spread infection throughout the body.

    Conventional doctors are very bad at finding and diagnosing parasitical and fungal infections that cannot easily be seen on the surface of the body. The average person is dealing with Candida overgrowth at the very least due to the aforementioned modern diet and lifestyle.

    Obviously, to treat a difficult bacterial infection such as Lyme the immune system needs to be as strong as possible. The immune system is only as healthy as the gut. The bodys intestinal tract mirrors the bodys health and dictates the power of the immune system. Step one is to balance the gut flora and eliminate most of the harmful pathogens in the body.



    Dont underestimate the power of beneficial bacteria for a properly working, strong immune system. Your beneficial bacteria play a major role in our immune system.

    Therapy Of Lyme Arthritis

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    As is the case in localized early Lyme disease, timely antibiotic treatment is recommended for Lyme arthritis.230, 231, 232 This is based on several doubleblinded randomized trials. Efficacy was first investigated in a parental penicillin trial.233 In this study, 35% of patients had complete resolution compared to none of the placebotreated patients. The percentage of patients with resolution of Lyme arthritis was higher in trials on doxycycline therapy.20, 23 Oral therapy was shown to be as effective as IV therapy, but safer and less expensive.234 Furthermore, antibiotic treatment shortens the duration of Lyme arthritis considerably. The clinical course of 21 patients with EM and Lyme arthritis treated with nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs and intraarticular steroids without antibiotic treatment was described in the 1980s.5 These individuals had attacks of arthritis, ranging from short attacks of arthritis to continuous synovitis, for a median total time of 43 months,5 whereas the duration of arthritis in antibiotictreated patients ranged from a median of 4 months in an antibioticresponsive group to 16 months in an antibioticrefractory disease group .23 In most patients with Lyme arthritis, symptoms resolved after a single course of antibiotic therapy, but this proportion varies from 48% to 90% in both Europe22, 235, 236 and North America.20, 23, 237

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    How Is Lyme Disease Treated

    Lyme disease is most often treated with antibiotics such as doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime for several weeks. Please complete the full course of antibiotics as prescribed, even if your child is feeling better, in order to kill all the bacteria.

    If your child doesnt respond to oral antibiotics, or if the Lyme disease is affecting the central nervous system, antibiotics may need to be given intravenously . This usually doesnt require your child to be hospitalized. In many cases, a nurse can come to your home to administer the IV or teach you or another family member how to do it.

    Anti-inflammatory medicine may be prescribed for children who are experiencing pain from arthritis.

    A New Study Has Shown That The Bacteria That Causes Lyme Disease Alters The Immune System Causing It To Attack The Healthy Cells In The Human Body

    The bacteria that causes Lyme disease Borrelia burgdorferi has been shown to stop communication between dendritic cells and T-cells, which normally signals for a response against foreign invaders.

    The study, carried out by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Clinical Research Center, has demonstrated that the bacteria alters dendritic cells, which normally present proteins from pathogens such as bacteria and viruses, known as antigens, to immune system T-cells, which then signals an immune response against any viruses or infections.

    The study has been published in Frontiers in Medicine.

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    Autoimmune Disease And Lyme Disease

    The incidence of PTLDS has increased over the years, and patients who have undergone antibiotic treatments are coming forward with symptoms they thought had disappeared long ago. Research has revealed that even long-term antibiotic treatment can leave some of the Lyme bacteria unscathed. When the bacteria is not completely eradicated, superficial symptoms can cascade into more serious, neurological conditions.

    It is not surprising that chronic Lyme patients might also be afflicted with autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis. What starts off as a disease bearing physical symptoms like sore joints and chest pain can transform into a chronic illness bearing symptoms of cognitive dysfunction, memory problems, chronic fatigue, and mood disorders.

    Medical specialists believe the autoimmune response that triggers the aforementioned symptoms is a result of the residual damage that occurs during the initial infection. The outer coat of the Lyme bacteria is similar to tissue found in our nervous system, and it is believed that the immune system reacts to this leftover tissue, attacking it and mistakenly attacking neuronal tissue as well. Thus, the bacterial tissue that was not eliminated via antibiotics confuses the immune system. The onset of chronic symptoms thereafter are misattributed to other autoimmune diseases, and likewise, the autoimmune diseases may be a direct result of the Lyme infection itself.

    What Causes Autoimmune Diseases

    Lyme Disease Treatment – Johns Hopkins (4 of 5)

    Most experts agree that autoimmune diseases are caused by environmental triggers. Common examples include foods , toxins , and viral or bacterial infections.

    Indeed, there is growing evidence that Lyme disease and other bacterial infections can trigger autoimmune diseases, especially in patients who are genetically predisposed to them. Studies have documented several cases of Lyme disease that appeared to trigger or mimic autoimmune diseases, including Sjogrens syndrome, dermatomyocitis , rheumatoid arthritis , psoriatic arthritis , and spondyloarthritis .

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    Was I In For A Surprise

    I tolerated the antibiotics without difficulty, and the fever and chills did not return. But instead of feeling better, I felt worse. The next symptom that hit me, and hit me hard, was insomnia. One night I woke up at 4:00 a.m., and couldnt fall back to sleep. The next night I woke up at 3:00 a.m., the next at 2:00 a.m., and then 1:00 a.m., unable to go back to sleep. This went on for weeks. I only slept a few hours a night. I was exhausted. But even worse, I became consumed with anxiety.

    I would lie awake through the dark hours of the night riddled with fear. Initially the apprehension focused on my sleeplessness, anticipating the difficulty of getting through the day in my worn-out state. Gradually the anxiety generalized into a constant dread that something terrible was about to happenimpending doom.

    It wasnt rational. It wasnt something I could control with reason. It was just always there. It felt like a black cloud was enveloping me, cutting me off from any future. It was pure existential terror. It was so intense that some nights, as I lay awake with insomnia, I shook so violently that I added disrupting the San Andreas fault to my list of fearsand I was living in Boston!

    You dont have Lyme, concluded.

    Well, then, what do I have? I was confused.

    Something else, he replied.

    The laboratory must have been wrong, he informed me.

    Why do you think I dont have Lyme? I responded.

    Because if you had Lyme, youd be better by now.