LymeNet Home LymeNet Home Page LymeNet Flash Discussion LymeNet Support Group Database LymeNet Literature Library LymeNet Legal Resources LymeNet Medical & Scientific Abstract Database LymeNet Newsletter Home Page LymeNet Recommended Books LymeNet Tick Pictures Search The LymeNet Site LymeNet Links LymeNet Frequently Asked Questions About The Lyme Disease Network LymeNet Menu

LymeNet on Facebook

LymeNet on Twitter

The Lyme Disease Network receives a commission from for each purchase originating from this site.

When purchasing from, please
click here first.

Thank you.

LymeNet Flash Discussion
Dedicated to the Bachmann Family

LymeNet needs your help:
LymeNet 2020 fund drive

The Lyme Disease Network is a non-profit organization funded by individual donations.

LymeNet Flash Post New Topic  New Poll  Post A Reply
my profile | directory login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» LymeNet Flash » Questions and Discussion » Medical Questions » Borrelia morphs explanation for all newbies (and oldies)

 - UBBFriend: Email this page to someone!    
Author Topic: Borrelia morphs explanation for all newbies (and oldies)
Dawn in VA
Frequent Contributor (1K+ posts)
Member # 9693

Icon 7 posted      Profile for Dawn in VA     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I just threw this bit together a while ago, but keep forgetting to toss it out here. Keep in mind that I'm not a physician, just an ole bio gal. Nothing most of you don't know already, just summarized.

(Of course, feel free to pass it along to whoever you think might find it useful, esp newbies we come into contact with- and add or subtract per your own knowledge/advice.)



Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative bacterium of Lyme Disease, is able to transform into three distinct forms (morphs): spirochete, cell wall-deficient, and cystic. Recent research also indicates that Borrelia can form biofilms. These transformations permit bacterial survival and proliferation in the human body.
Each form has different characteristics and vulnerabilities, so each one must be treated with different agents. Combination therapy is often employed.

1) Spirochete form: shaped like a corkscrew, this is the active form. It is an anaerobic (can only tolerate low levels of oxygen) bacterium that has a cell wall and a flagellum (tail). Its shape and flagellum provide motility and allow it to burrow into tissue and organs. When it dies, its cell wall releases endoxins called lipopolysaccharides. (This might account for the Jarisch-Herxheimer, or herx, reaction some people experience during treatment.)
Tetracycline antibiotics are often used to combat this morph. Doxycyline, Minocycline, and Tygacil are the most commonly prescribed.
Beta-lactam antibiotics are also often used. They include cephalosporins like Rocephin (intravenous or intramuscular), Ceftin, and Omnicef, and penicillins like Amoxicillin or intramuscular Bicillin.

Beta-lactams work on the cell wall of the bacteria by inhibiting synthesis of the peptidoglycan layer. The peptidoglycan layer is a mesh-like structure made up of sugars and amino acids.

Note: take tetracyclines at least 2 hours apart from any dairy product, do not lie down for at least 30 minutes afterwards, and avoid sunlight (serious burns can result).

Note: some cephalosporins can be rough on the liver. Make sure to get your liver and kidneys checked via regular blood tests.

2) Cell wall-deficient form: as the name implies, this form does not have a cellular wall.
Macrolides are used to treat this morph. The most common ones prescribed for Lyme are Zithromycin, Biaxin, and Roxythromycin.

Macrolides work by binding irreversibly to the 50S subunit of bacterial ribosomes. Ribosomes are the protein factories of the cell, and by binding to the ribosome, macrolides inhibit translocation of tRNA during translation (the production of proteins under the direction of DNA). They are bacteriostatic, meaning that they inhibit bacterial growth and reproduction. However, they can be bactericidal (actually kill the bacteria) if your blood level concentration is high enough.

Note: some people can experience Q/T interval (cardiac) problems while on macrolides. Make sure you do not take more than your prescribed dose, take it at the same time everyday, and seek medical attention or call your doctor if you develop cardiac symptoms (new or increase in palpitations, rapid or varying pulse, pain, etc.).

3) Cyst form: a dormant, immobile form that can remain totally hidden from the human immune system. It can survive antibiotics, starvation, pH changes, hydrogen peroxide, temperature variation, and most other adverse conditions. It converts back to the spirochete form when conditions are favorable (for example, when antibiotics are not in use).
Anti-protozoals/anti-parasitics are used, most commonly Flagyl (metronidazole) and Tindimax (tinidazole).

Anti-protozoals like Flagyl and Tindamax work by opening the cyst, converting it to one of the other forms above. Antibiotics then take over the job.

Note: Flagyl and Tindamax can be rough on the liver. Make sure to get your liver and kidneys checked via regular, simple blood tests while taking them. Flagyl has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals. It is not known whether Tindamax increases the risk of developing cancer in laboratory animals or in humans, but the two have very similar molecular structures, so some professionals assume the same risks.

4) Biofilm layer: Borrelia aggregate together and weave a protective web, or matrix, around themselves, similar to a protective colony. Dental plaque is a good analogy. Biofims show increased resistance to detergents and antibiotics, as the dense extracellular matrix and the outer layer of cells protect the interior of the community.
Proteolytic enzymes like Lumbrokinase, Nattokinase, and Serrapeptase are usually employed to degrade this protective layer.

Note: These enzymes can thin ones blood. Use caution if you take more than one at the same time, if you are on a high dose, or if you are taking other blood-thinning agents like Coumadin, aspirin, or frequent ibuprofen.

(The ole disclaimer: I'm not a doctor.)

Posts: 1349 | From VA | Registered: Jul 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Frequent Contributor (1K+ posts)
Member # 29020

Icon 1 posted      Profile for ktkdommer     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Lots of good information. Thanks for the time spent compiling it!

Things are never dull. After 3 fighting Lyme, 2 are in remission. Youngest is still sick, age 22. He has new diagnosed Chiari Malformation and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.

Posts: 1366 | From Perrysburg, Ohio | Registered: Nov 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
LymeNet Contributor
Member # 28368

Icon 1 posted      Profile for elkielover80     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
wow thanks for summarizing!

No tick bite/rash
sick Nov '09
diagnosed Mar '11
LOTS of supplements

Psalm 62:5b He is my rock and my salvation. He is my defender, I WILL NOT BE DEFEATED!

Posts: 127 | From Illinois | Registered: Sep 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Frequent Contributor (1K+ posts)
Member # 20157

Icon 1 posted      Profile for nefferdun     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
That is a very good summary. Another macrolide I used and found very effective is Ketek. Dr. B thinks it is the most effective if tolerated.

Dr. B said in his speech at the CALDA conference in March 2011 that he now believes Samento and Banderol are the most effective against bio-firm. Another supplement people use is acetyl l cysteine.]

You should do this for the other infections too.

old joke: idiopathic means the patient is pathological and the the doctor is an idiot

Posts: 4676 | From western Montana | Registered: Apr 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

Quick Reply

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code is enabled.

Instant Graemlins

Post New Topic  New Poll  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:

Contact Us | LymeNet home page | Privacy Statement

Powered by UBB.classic™ 6.7.3

The Lyme Disease Network is a non-profit organization funded by individual donations. If you would like to support the Network and the LymeNet system of Web services, please send your donations to:

The Lyme Disease Network of New Jersey
907 Pebble Creek Court, Pennington, NJ 08534 USA

| Flash Discussion | Support Groups | On-Line Library
Legal Resources | Medical Abstracts | Newsletter | Books
Pictures | Site Search | Links | Help/Questions
About LymeNet | Contact Us

© 1993-2020 The Lyme Disease Network of New Jersey, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.
Use of the LymeNet Site is subject to Terms and Conditions.