Biology and neuropathology of dementia in syphilis and Lyme disease

JUDITH MIKLOSSY
University of British Columbia,
Kinsmen Laboratory of Neurological Research,
Vancouver, BC, Canada

Introduction
It has long been known that Treponema pallidum, subspecies pallidum can in late stages of neurosyphilis cause dementia, cortical atrophy, and amyloid deposi- tion. The occurrence of dementia, including subacute presenile dementia, was also reported in association with Lyme disease caused by another spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi. Both spirochetes are neurotropic and in both diseases the neurological and pathological manifestations occur in three stages. They both can persist in the infected host tissue and play a role in chronic neuropsychiatric disorders, including dementia.

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