Using highly sensitive methods of detection validated with nonhuman primate samples at the Tulane National Primate Research Center, the research team concluded that at the time of her death, the woman’s central nervous system still harbored intact spirochetes in spite of aggressive antibiotic therapy for Lyme disease.
She experienced continual neurological decline including a severe movement disorder and personality changes, and eventually succumbed to Lewy body dementia. Lewy body dementia is associated with abnormal protein deposits in the nerve cells of the brain that can cause impairment in thinking, movement and mood, leading to a severe form of dementia.
This is the first time researchers have identified a possible correlation between Lyme disease infection and Lewy body dementia.
Monica Embers, associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Tulane, is the lead author of the study published in Frontiers in Neurology.