Lyme Disease: Bacteria Morphology

Here are some “facts” an AI pulled from various journal articles about the shapes of Lyme disease bacteria. If you have Lyme Disease, this is a bit concering because how do you fight something with five different forms, some of which are resistant to antibiotics? Plus, this does not mention biofilms, which are an entire topic. Anyway, we hope someone finds this summary useful. PS. The art does not depict anything real.

  1. Corkscrews: The most well-known and characteristic shape of Borrelia is the spirochete form: long, slender, and helically coiled bacteria with a flexible cell wall.  The spirochetes of Borrelia burgdorferi are spiral-shaped bacteria similar to syphilis.
  2. L-forms: Borrelia can also transform into L-form or cell-wall-deficient forms, a configuration where the bacteria lose their typical spirochete shape and become irregularly shaped or spherical.  Borrelia L-forms lack a rigid cell wall, making them more resistant to certain antibiotics and able to evade the immune system.
  3. Cysts: Borrelia forms cysts, but never spores.  Borrelia cysts are dormant forms of Borrelia bacteria that have adapted to survive in harsh conditions, such as when they are outside a host’s body or when exposed to antibiotics. Cysts have protective outer layers that allow them to withstand adverse environments and can later transform back into active bacteria.
  4. Persister cells: Persister cells are a subpopulation of bacteria, including Borrelia, that have the ability to enter a dormant state when exposed to antibiotics. These cells are not affected by standard antibiotic treatments and can survive within the host’s body, potentially leading to chronic or recurrent infections. Persister cells are resistant to antibiotic treatment and can contribute to the persistence of symptoms.
  5. Round bodies: Round bodies refer to a particular morphological form of Borrelia bacteria that have been observed in laboratory studies. These rounded forms are thought to represent a dormant state in which the bacteria adapt to survive under adverse conditions.In response to adverse conditions or under antibiotic pressure, Borrelia can transform into round bodies: small, dense, and compact structures that change shape into a spherical or oval form. It is believed that round bodies serve as a dormant or survival stage, allowing the bacteria to resist environmental stressors and survive in unfavorable conditions.

Hiram Abiffis

Hiram Abiffis is a retired MD and researcher who started writing for Newsi8 in 2023.

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