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Sunday, March 25, 2012

MycoPlasma and Auto Immune Disease


Mycoplasmas - Stealth Pathogens

By Leslie Taylor, ND
January, 2001



Mycoplasmas are a specific and unique species of bacteria - the smallest free-living organism known on the planet. The primary differences between mycoplasmas and other bacteria is that bacteria have a solid cell-wall structure and they can grow in the simplest culture media. Mycoplasmas however, do not have a cell wall, and like a tiny jellyfish with a pliable membrane, can take on many different shapes which make them difficult to identify, even under a high powered electron microscope. Mycoplasmas can also be very hard to culture in the laboratory and are often missed as pathogenic causes of diseases for this reason.

The accepted name was chosen because Mycoplasmas were observed to have a fungi-like structure (Mycology is the study of fungi - hence "Myco") and it also had a flowing plasma-like structure without a cell wall - hence "plasma". The first strains were isolated from cattle with arthritis and pleuro-pneumonia in 1898 at the Pasteur Institute. The first human strain was isolated in 1932 from an abscessed wound. The first connection between mycoplasmas and rheumatoid diseases was made in 1939 by Drs. Swift and Brown. Unfortunately, mycoplasmas didn't become part of the medical school curriculum until the late 1950's when one specific strain was identified and proven to be the cause of atypical pneumonia, and named Mycoplasma pneumonia. The association between immunodeficiency and autoimmune disorders with mycoplasmas was first reported in the mid 1970s in patients with primary hypogammaglobulinemia (an autoimmune disease) and infection with four species of mycoplasma that had localized in joint tissue. Since that time, scientific testing methodologies have made critical technological progress and along with it, more mycoplasma species have been identified and recorded in animals, humans and even plants.

While Mycoplasma pneumonia is certainly not the only species causing disease in humans, it makes for a good example of how this stealth pathogen can move out of it's typical environment and into other parts of the body and begin causing other diseases. While residing in the respiratory tract and lungs, Mycoplasma pneumonia remains an important cause of pneumonia and other airway disorders, such as tracheobronchitis, pharyngitis and asthma. When this stealth pathogen hitches a ride to other parts of the body, it is associated with non-pulmonary manifestations, such as blood, skin, joint, central nervous system, liver, pancreas, and cardiovascular syndromes and disorders. Even as far back as 1983, doctors at Yale noted:
    "Over the past 20 years the annual number of reports on extrapulmonary symptoms during Mycoplasma (M.) pneumoniae disease has increased. Clinical and epidemiological data indicate that symptoms from the skin and mucous membranes, from the central nervous system, from the heart, and perhaps from other organs as well are not quite uncommon manifestations of M. pneumoniae disease."(15)

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