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Leftover bacteria fragments may extend symptoms of Lyme disease

0 2 years ago
  • For some people with Lyme disease, symptoms extend well beyond “successful” treatment with antibiotics.
  • A new study finds that dead, left-behind bits of the bacteria that cause Lyme disease may be the culprit.
  • The research shows that these unviable fragments cause even more neurological and musculoskeletal inflammation than the live bacteria.
  • It is hoped that future treatment can neutralize or clear out these lingering fragments.

A 2-to-4-week regimen of oral antibiotics cures Lyme disease for most people. However, for some, the symptoms linger for months. Among these symptoms are cognitive dysfunction — difficulty thinking — and musculoskeletal pain.

A new study from researchers at Tulane University, in New Orleans, has discovered what may be the reason.

After antibiotics have treated the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease, dead fragments are left behind, and these cause inflammation in the central and peripheral nervous systems.

Lead study author Dr. Geetha Parthasarathy, an assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at Tulane University’s National Primate Research Center, explains:

“As neuroinflammation is the basis of many neurological disorders, lingering inflammation in the brain due to these unresolved fragments could cause long-term health consequences.”

Dr. Michal Křupka, of Palacký University Olomouc, in Czechia — who was not involved in the study — told Medical News Today, “Excessive activation of the immune system is thought to play a role in this case, rather than the infection itself.”


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