Chronic Lyme disease has Demyelination on MRI

September 10, 2023

Chronic Lyme has MRI Scan Changes Consistent with Demyelination

Chronic Lyme Disease is a mystery, much like Chronic COVID. There is clearly a similarity with Chronic Lyme and CIRS. We, in the CIRS community, contend that chronic Lyme disease is a cause of about 10% of CIRS with 80% of CIRS being caused by mold/actinomycetes toxins from water-damaged buildings. Brain fog is high on the list of aggravating symptoms. Additional symptoms like “difficulty concentrating”, “learning new knowledge”, and “remembering” all fit under the rubric of “brain fog”.

Now we know why. This is a very meaningful study that lies in the nexus of multiple threads of scientific discovery. As reported in PLOS 1, 12 patients with well-characterized and documented Lyme disease compared to 18 controls had MRI scans with diffusion tensor studies. There were clear differences between the controls and the Lyme patients.

MRI diffusion tensor studies are looking at the distribution of water in white matter. White matter is basically all the cables (axons) between the computer servers (neurons) in your brain. Myelin is over 70% plasmalogens made with oleic acid (olive oil) made by brain cells called oligodendrocytes. Each oligodendrocyte services dozens of axon cables around it by gradually growing its membrane around and around the axon. There are many, many layers of membrane. Each layer makes for faster, more consistent conductivity of the axon. Your brain is being myelinated continuously into your late 40s. Yes, a 40-year-old has more myelin than a teenager.

If you do a cross-section of human white matter at autopsy, you see millions of cables in cross-section, each of which is surrounded by layer upon layer of myelin. Like onions, there are multiple layers of insulation or wrapping. The more the better. Those myelin layers are made of fat. Fat repels water. Very little water is between the myelin layers. There is so little that most of it lines up with each other in a characteristic pattern because of the tiny bipolarity of water.

You are now getting the picture. MRI scans work by activating that polarity of the water molecule with a huge magnet. Then, let it go. The magnet makes a loud banging as it releases the magnetic field, making MRI scans noisy events. The pattern you see in healthy brain white matter is exactly that….very little water, all neatly lined up.

That’s not what you see in chronic Lyme disease. You see alterations in the diffusion studies reflecting damage to the myelin. That’s a hugely important finding.

The reason that’s huge is because we know all the steps short of that. This is exactly what happens in autism, though autism strikes a much more immature brain that hasn’t laid down many memories or layers of myelin.

Inflammation in the brain only has one pathway to express itself. Reactive oxygen species escape stressed mitochondria and generate free peroxide. Peroxide overwhelms glutathione and then goes on to do more damage to any double bond it can find. Plasmalogens are designed to protect the precious nerve fiber with a double bond right on the surface of the myelin membrane. That way it can gobble up the peroxide, or worse, the OH- hydroxyl ion, before any damage can happen to the axon. With that, the plasmalogen molecule is destroyed and has to be replaced. That puts a huge stress on the oligodendrocyte, which has to make more plasmalogens to repair the damaged membrane. That’s the plasmalogen bottleneck.

Lyme disease creates an ongoing generation of oxidizing stress on the white matter of the brain. It is exhausting the ability of the white matter to repair itself, and indeed, the MRI is here proving that it is not succeeding at so doing. Each oligodendrocyte has a huge surface area because it serves dozens of axons with many layers of myelin. All that is well and good until an oxidizing environment comes along. Chronic infection from Lyme meets that criteria.

The problem is the ongoing oxidizing stress. Like a circle of dominos, as soon as you put up one side of the circle, the falling dominoes come around again. Once you have oxidizing stress and damage some membranes, the garbage trucks of the brain come to clean up. Microglial cells come to kill what they think is an infection invader. In their well-meaning efforts to knock off the “invader,” they damage the axon membranes around the injured axon, making for more damage and calling in more microglia. Around and around, you go.

There is only one way to cure this. Treating with antibiotics and hoping it will get better won’t do it. Of course, you have to kill the Lyme disease but that’s not a forever thing. You have to interrupt the circle of dominoes. You have to break through the plasmalogen bottleneck. That takes treating the oxidizing stress and flooding the zone with sufficient plasmalogen replacements should fix it. Giving your oligodendrocytes adequate building blocks to repair the white matter is a necessary and relevant step. We don’t have proof of that yet, but we have all the requisite intermediate steps proven in the scientific literature. This article seals the deal.

What has now changed and offers hope is the ability to manufacture plasmalogen replacement supplements. With Prodrome Glia, we can replace the missing piece of the jig saw.

WWW. What will Work for Me? I’m going to try this experiment on any Lyme patient in the future. It makes perfect sense. We are repairing other forms of plasmalogen damage. It takes an agonizing long time to fix, but fix it does. Goodenowe just reported that he measured his own brain, while in a healthy state. His MRI of his brain showed normal diffusion status when he started but after one year of Prodrome Glia, it improved dramatically. That was unexpected.

References: PLOS One,

Pop Quiz

1. What happens to the brains of Lyme Disease patients as shown on MRI?                        Answer: Dymelination of the axons

2. Why is that a problem?                          Answer: Lose a layer or two, you get brain fog, trouble remembering, etc. Your brain slows down.

3. Why is this demyelination happening?                          Answer: The common pathway of oxidative stress that causes too many loose electrons, causing activation of catalase and the manufacturing of peroxide to get rid of the electrons. That depletes glutathione. If still overwhelmed, peroxide and the hydroxyl ion attack the plasmalogen double bond, designed for just that purpose, so be the final line of defense against oxidative stress. Microglia come to clean up the damage but they are sloppy and damage the surrounding cells, which then need repair, and that becomes self-perpetuating.

4. What is the "plasmalogen bottleneck"?                           Answer: The oligodendrocytes, tasked with making and maintaining the myelin end up way overextended. Each oligodendrocyte has multiple axons it is covered with many layers of myelin, resulting in a surface area of membranes that is impossible to keep up with under the burden of ongoing oxidative stress. They can't catch up.

5. Is there a fix for that?                           Answer: Not proven but probably yes. Prodrome Glia is the precursor plasmalogen molecule found in mother's breast milk. Newborn babies get 30 mg/kg per day while breastfeeding. It accelerates remyelination. This might be huge and may be the cure for long Lyme's.