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October 24, 1986

Borrelia in the Brains of Patients Dying With Dementia

Author Affiliations

Southampton (NY) Hospital

JAMA. 1986;256(16):2195-2196. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380160053011

To the Editor.—  I have identified spirochetes in serial subculture of autopsy brain tissues from two patients with dementia. Indirect immunofluorescence, using monoclonal antibodies specific for Borrelia species, resulted in fluorescence of spirochetes that had previously been identified by darkfield microscope examination (Figs 1 through 4).Case 1 was a 74-year-old woman with mild dementia of less than one year's duration. She had resided in New York and Florida. Case 2 was a 69-year-old man who died in a nursing home in Texas after a four- to five-year history of progressive dementia. Parkinsonian symptoms were noted during his last year of life. Neither patient had symptoms of the skin, joint, or cardiac disorders described in Borrelia burgdorferi infection.Recent reports have described patients with various chronic degenerative neurological disorders whose blood or cerebrospinal fluid contains antibodies against B burgdorferi.1 Individuals with cognitive impairment or memory disorders are found within