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Morgellons Disease: A Chemical and Light Microscopic Study-Check out the comparative photos with Bovine digital dermatitis (mad cow)

Posted By: CrystalRiver
Date: Friday, 22-Nov-2019 20:10:21

Dear RM Agents and Readers,

Really the best way to view this article in the way it was intended is to go to the link below:

This way you can easily go in and do a comparative of the bovine digitalis to Morgellons (MD). Many have died with this illness and many have suffered a lifetime. Lets wake up the medical community and defrock the CDC of their powers or at the least, remove the criminals within the walls!

Many Blessings,

ISSN: 2155-9554
Journal of Clinical & Experimental Dermatology Research

Morgellons Disease: A Chemical and Light Microscopic Study-

Morgellons Disease: A Chemical and Light Microscopic Study
Marianne J. Middelveen1, Elizabeth H. Rasmussen2, Douglas G. Kahn3 and Raphael B. Stricker1*
1International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society, Bethesda, MD

2College of Health Sciences, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY

3Department of Pathology, Olive View - UCLA Medical Center, Sylmar, California

*Corresponding Author:
Raphael B. Stricker, MD
450 Sutter Street, Suite 1504
San Francisco, CA 94108, USA
Tel: (415)399-1035
Fax: (415) 399-1057
Received date: January 27, 2012; Accepted date: March 12, 2012; Published date: March 16, 2012

Citation: Middelveen MJ, Rasmussen EH, Kahn DG, Stricker RB (2012) Morgellons Disease: A Chemical and Light Microscopic Study. J Clin Exp Dermatol Res 3:140. doi: 10.4172/2155-9554.1000140

Copyright: © 2012 Middelveen MJ, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Visit for more related articles at Journal of Clinical & Experimental Dermatology Research


Morgellons disease is an emerging multisystem illness characterized by unexplained dermopathy and unusual skin- associated filament production. Despite evidence demonstrating that an infectious process is involved and that lesions are not self-inflicted, many medical practitioners continue to claim that this illness is delusional. We present relevant clinical observations combined with chemical and light microscopic studies of material collected from three patients with Morgellons disease. Our study demonstrates that Morgellons disease is not delusional and that skin lesions with unusual fibers are not self-inflicted or psychogenic. We provide chemical, light microscopic and immunohistological evidence that filaments associated with this condition originate from human epithelial cells, supporting the hypothesis that the fibers are composed of keratin and are products of keratinocytes.


Morgellons disease; Digital dermatitis; Lyme disease; Borrelia burgdorferi; Spirochetes; Keratin


Morgellons disease (MD) is an emerging dermatological disorder and multisystem illness. The disease is characterized by unexplained dermopathy associated with formation of unusual filaments found both subcutaneously and emerging from spontaneously appearing, slow-healing skin lesions [1]. Filaments associated with MD appear beneath unbroken skin [1,2], thus demonstrating that they are not self-implanted. Filaments have been observed protruding from and attached to a matrix of epithelial cells [3]. This finding demonstrates that the filaments are of human cellular origin and are not textile fibers. These filaments have not been matched with known textile fibers, and dye-extracting solvents have failed to release coloration; the fibers are also very strong and heat resistant [4,5]. MD filaments are physically and chemically consistent with keratin, a biofiber produced in the epithelium by keratinocytes. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that these filaments have a protein composition that is consistent with keratin [6].

Lyme disease-like symptoms in MD such as neurological disorders and joint pain are evidence of systemic involvement [1,2,7] . Objective clinical evidence of disease has been demonstrated by its association with peripheral neuropathy, delayed capillary refill, decreased body temperature, tachycardia, elevated pro-inflammatory markers, cytokine release, selective immune deficiency and elevated insulin levels, suggesting that an infectious process is involved [8,9]. Patients may demonstrate abnormal laboratory findings indicative of low-grade anemia, endocrine dysfunction, immune dysfunction and inflammation [8,10]. Patients with MD are predominantly seroreactive to Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb) antigens, suggesting a likelihood of Lyme borreliosis or related spirochetal infection [1,10]. Patients also demonstrate a higher than expected percentage of positive laboratory findings for other tick-borne diseases, suggesting the possible involvement of coinfecting pathogens [10].

The observation of unusual filaments forming in lesions is not unique to humans afflicted with MD. Similarities between MD and bovine digital dermatitis (BDD) have been described [3]. BDD is an emerging disease afflicting cattle and is characteristically associated with unusual filament formation in skin above the hooves [11]. Latestage proliferative lesions demonstrate elongation of keratinocytes, hyperkeratosis, and proliferation of long keratin filaments [12-14]. Consistent detection of spirochetes associated with lesions is evidence of spirochetal etiologic involvement [15-20]. Experimental induction of lesions with tissue homogenates [21] and pure cultured treponemes [22] supports a role for spirochetes as primary etiologic agents.

Like BDD, MD is associated with apparent spirochetal infection and unusual filament production [3]. A comparison between BDD and MD suggests that the unusual fibers seen in MD patients may result from hyperkeratosis and filament production as described in BDD. It appears that MD fibers are likewise composed of keratin produced by keratinocytes, a phenomenon that has been demonstrated in BDD [3]. The following three case studies provide further evidence supporting this hypothesis.

Materials and Methods

Human and bovine samples

Three patients meeting the clinical criteria for Morgellons disease collected calluses, scabs, filaments, and other dermatological debris and submitted the material for microscopic examination. The collected samples were examined by bright-field microscopy at 100x magnification. Specimens were illuminated either superior or posterior to the specimen. Some specimens were also illuminated with ultraviolet (UV) light.

Biopsies from cattle with BDD were kindly provided by Dr. Dorte Dopfer, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI. Biopsy material from proliferative late stage BDD was examined for comparison to MD samples with 8x magnification under a dissecting microscope. This material was also tested for fluorescence under UV light.

For the chemical experiments, samples of normal hair, filaments from Cases 1 and 2 and BDD fibers were studied for reactivity to three caustic agents: sodium hypochlorite 12%, sodium hydroxide 10%, and potassium hydroxide 10%. Each sample was suspended in 150 μl of the chemical solution for up to two hours, and serial light microscopy was performed at 0, 1, 10, 30, 60 and 120 minutes. Dissolution of fibers was assessed by fraying, loss of shape and/or disintegration at each timepoint.

For the immunohistological experiments, filament samples from Cases 1 and 2 were stained for keratin using monoclonal antibodies. Briefly, formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded filaments were incubated with monoclonal antibodies AE1/AE3 (Dako North America Inc, Carpinteria, CA) and AE5/AE6 (Cell Marque Corporation, Rocklin, CA) directed against cytokeratins 1/3 and 5/6, respectively, using the Envision® + Dual-Link System-HRP (Dako) according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The samples were stained using a horseradish peroxidase label, and the brown staining of keratin was visualized under light microscopy.

Clinical Observations

Case 1

The patient is a 72-year-old grandmother and former fashion model who developed painful lesions on her hands while working in her garden in San Antonio, Texas, in 1994. The lesions were punctate with ragged edges and healed slowly, leaving visible scarring. Fibers were observed in the lesions and under intact skin on her hands using a 60x handheld microscope. Topical steroids had no effect. The patient also noted the onset of fatigue, joint pain and muscle aches, and systemic steroid treatment exacerbated these symptoms without any improvement in the skin lesions. Medical evaluation was negative for autoimmune or infectious diseases, and neuropsychiatric evaluation was entirely normal. Biopsy of a lesion demonstrated hyperkeratosis and parakeratosis with no visible organisms or evidence of vasculitis. However “textile fibers” were noted in the dermal layer of the biopsy specimen.

In 2001, after numerous visits to dermatologists and other medical specialists and treatment with topical emollients and antiinflammatory medications, the patient had persistent skin lesions on her hands, fatigue and musculoskeletal pain. Despite the use of gloves to avoid scratching, her lesions persisted and she was unable to work in her garden or hold her grandchildren due to pain in her hands and joints. She recalled numerous tickbites but never saw an erythema migrans (EM) rash, and she was found to have positive testing for B. burgdorferi, Babesia microti and Bartonella henselae. She was treated with antimicrobial medications and her fatigue and musculoskeletal pain improved significantly. However her skin lesions persisted. She received anti-parasitic medication, and the lesions improved to the point that she could once again do gardening. The lesions persist but are “manageable” (Figure 1A).


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