A new paper 'Inflammation and central nervous system Lyme disease' has just been published in the journal Neurobiology of Disease authored by Dr. Brian Fallon, Director of the Columbia Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center, Dr. David Hardesty, Lyme Center Neurologist. and fellows Elizabeth Levin and Pernilla Schweitzer.
Neurologic manifestations of Lyme disease occur in 10-15% of individuals with untreated Lyme. This paper discusses the symptoms of neurologic Lyme and reviews experimental studies that provide insight into the possible mechanisms of inflammation following Borrelia infection and contributing risk factors.
A fascinating and potentially very important study has recently come out in the journal Science. The study reports on the discovery that 68% of patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) carry the XMRV virus as compared to 3.7% of those without CFS.
Further work reported in the New York Times indicates that the virus has been found in 98% of patients with CFS.
The discovery of this retrovirus, if confirmed by other research groups, suggests that this virus is either the cause or an important secondary factor in CFS.
This finding has implications for Lyme research as it is possible that patients who carry this virus when co-infected with Lyme go on to have persistent symptoms because:
a) of activation of the latent virus;
b) infection with Lyme or another tick-borne disease lowers the immune surveillance making the individual more susceptible to "catch" the virus; or
c) the presence of the virus and the spirochete together act synergistically to induce an array of illness symptoms or to prevent eradication or control of either organism.
In any case, given that the symptoms of CFS are so similar to the symptoms of patients with chronic persistent Lyme symptoms, especially shared problems with fatigue and cognition, research in this area may shed important light on the mechanisms underlying the perpetuation of chronic symptoms.
In terms of treatment, if this virus is thought to be causal, then retroviral treatments that are used for treating HIV may be very helpful for patients with chronic persistent symptoms.
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