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Destruction of spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi round-body propagules (RBs) by the antibiotic tigecycline.

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Persistence of tissue spirochetes of Borrelia burgdorferi as helices and round bodies (RBs) explains many erythema-
Lyme disease symptoms. Spirochete RBs (reproductive propagules also called coccoid bodies, globular bodies, spherical bodies, granules, cysts, L-forms, sphaeroplasts, or vesicles) are induced by environmental conditions unfavorable for growth. Viable, they grow, move and reversibly convert into motile helices. Reversible pleiomorphy was recorded in at least six spirochete genera (>12 species). Penicillin solution is one unfavorable condition that induces RBs. This antibiotic that inhibits bacterial cell wall synthesis cures neither the second "Great Imitator" (
Lyme borreliosis) nor the first: syphilis. Molecular-microscopic techniques, in principle, can detect in animals (insects, ticks, and mammals, including patients) helices and RBs of live spirochetes. Genome sequences of B. burgdorferi and Treponema pallidum spirochetes show absence of >75% of genes in comparison with their free-living relatives. Irreversible integration of spirochetes at behavioral, metabolic, gene product and genetic levels into animal tissue has been documented. Irreversible integration of spirochetes may severely impair immunological response such that they persist undetected in tissue. We report in vitro inhibition and destruction of B. burgdorferi (helices, RBs = "cysts") by the antibiotic Tigecycline (TG; Wyeth), a glycylcycline protein-synthesis inhibitor (of both 30S and 70S ribosome subunits). Studies of the pleiomorphic life history stages in response to TG of both B. burgdorferi and Treponema pallidum in vivo and in vitro are strongly encouraged.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Nov 3;106(44):18656-61. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0908236106. Epub 2009 Oct 20.

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