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July 1971

Acid-Fast Bacteria in Scleroderma and Morphea

Author Affiliations

Los Angeles

From the Department of Dermatology, Kaiser Foundation Hospital and Southern California Permanente Medical Group (Dr. Cantwell), and American Medical Laboratories (Mr. Kelso), Los Angeles. Mr. Kelso is Consultant Microbiologist at American Medical Laboratories.

Arch Dermatol. 1971;104(1):21-25. doi:10.1001/archderm.1971.04000190023004

A bacteriologic and histologic study of the skin of six consecutive patients with generalized scleroderma and three patients with localized scleroderma (morphea) was undertaken to determine if acid-fast bacteria could be demonstrated and cultured. Cultures were positive in seven cases for an intermittently acid-fast, gram-positive, pleomorphic organism most closely resembling the bacterium first isolated from scleroderma in 1947 by Wuerthele-Caspé. In addition, rare acid-fast organisms could be detected in Fite-Faraco stained tissue sections from four of the scleroderma patients, and from two of those with morphea. The possibility that this type of organism is etiologic in both the localized and systemic forms of scleroderma should be considered, at least until the pathogenicity of this microbe is more fully clarified.