Bacteria and Fungi Found in Central Nervous System of ALS Patients, Study Reports

Bacteria and Fungi Found in Central Nervous System of ALS Patients, Study Reports

Several species of bacteria and fungi were found living in the central nervous system (CNS) of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) that could potentially be related to the development of the disease, a study reports.

However, according to the researchers, more studies are still needed to confirm if there is a direct link between these pathogens and disease onset.

The study, “Searching for Bacteria in Neural Tissue From Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis,” were published in Frontiers in Neuroscience.

ALS is a progressive neurological disorder in which motor neurons — the nerve cells responsible for controlling voluntary muscles — gradually degenerate and die, causing muscles to shrink (atrophy) and become weaker.

Despite major advancements in clinical research, the origins and causes of ALS remain largely unknown. In previous studies, a group of researchers from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in Spain suggested that ALS might be caused by a fungal infection, based on the observation of fungi structures on tissue samples from patients and on the identification of several species of fungi in the CNS (composed of the brain, brainstem and cerebellum) of individuals with ALS.

For this study, the same team of researchers set out to confirm if bacterial infections might also accompany fungal infections in tissue samples from patients with ALS.

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They analyzed frozen CNS tissue samples from 11 patients diagnosed with ALS. To detect the presence of bacteria, scientists isolated DNA from the patients’ CNS samples and performed nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to look for bacterial DNA. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) was then used to identify which bacteria species were present in the samples.

Using this approach, the scientists found bacterial DNA in different regions of the CNS in all tissue samples. In addition, with immunohistochemistry (a technique that allows researchers to visualize structures in great detail using specific antibodies), they detected the presence of bacteria in neural tissue samples from patients, which was consistent with their previous findings.

NGS confirmed the presence of bacterial DNA in all tissue samples. Despite the large variability of bacteria orders found in the patients’ samples, the phyla Proteobacteria and Actinobacteria were the most represented in all regions of the CNS.

“Our results indicate that bacterial DNA and [bacterial cells] are present in CNS tissue, leading to the concept that both fungal and bacterial infections coexist in patients with ALS,” the researchers wrote.

“The confirmation that [ALS and other neurological] diseases are caused by fungi or bacteria, or both, should come from clinical trials using already approved antifungal and antibacterial agents. Patients with these neurodegenerative diseases do not have to wait for the development of new therapeutic agents. These studies using safe antimicrobial compounds could be started immediately after approval of these trials,” they added.

Joana is currently completing her PhD in Biomedicine and Clinical Research at Universidade de Lisboa. She also holds a BSc in Biology and an MSc in Evolutionary and Developmental Biology from Universidade de Lisboa. Her work has been focused on the impact of non-canonical Wnt signaling in the collective behavior of endothelial cells — cells that make up the lining of blood vessels — found in the umbilical cord of newborns.
Joana is currently completing her PhD in Biomedicine and Clinical Research at Universidade de Lisboa. She also holds a BSc in Biology and an MSc in Evolutionary and Developmental Biology from Universidade de Lisboa. Her work has been focused on the impact of non-canonical Wnt signaling in the collective behavior of endothelial cells — cells that make up the lining of blood vessels — found in the umbilical cord of newborns.
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  1. Liz says:

    Hmmmmm. I have been told Bulber Palsey. Could bacteria and fungus be considered in that, too. November 2017 I got really sick in Mexico. Food poisoning? Lost 20 #s. February 2018 I went to dr with a lot of stomach pain. He thought bacteria infection in my intestines. With in 1.5 days on the antibiotics the pain had subsided.

    Could something be left inside me causing my speech to slur, choke, hard to swallow, etc? I have been to many drs. Originally, I was having TMJ worked on. Oral surgeon wanted me to see neurologist. EMG and cognitive tests yesterday. Have been referred to ALS clinic and more blood work.

    • Karla Dale says:

      Have you been checked for parasites? They are a lot more common than people think and drs rarely check for yeast or parasites.

      • Bernadette says:

        Totally agree with you. I know 5 people in my area in endemic tick region of Lake Erie, that were diagnosed with ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and all 5 tested positive for Lyme Disease. I researched WHY they NAMED this neurological condition after Lou Gehrig. Only to find out out he was an avid outsdoorman and gardener ( as well as a robust athlete )…but his summer cottage was in LYME CT. This is where Lyme Disease got it’s name, after the illness hitting kids in the 70s. In very close proximity to Plum Island where lits of testing was underway. I don’t think this is an accident.

        • Paula Kaye says:

          Interesting. Never heard of a possible Plum Island Connection. I have heard of a possible connection between fungi and cancer. Haven’t done much research on it, but the way most cancers are described as being tumor “lumps” may not always be quite accurate. For example, while breast cancer is usually described as “lumps”, turns out it can also be more diagnostically described as an “irregular spiculated mass” (as stated in the findings of my own mammogram report), which sounds more like a description of a fungal growth than a “lump”. Just sayin…and wondering.

        • George says:

          Hey Bernadette,
          If they are positive for Lyme did they get treatment for this? And if yes are the ALS symptoms are better?

    • Heather says:

      May I asked where you stayed in Mexico? My husband is also having issues and we stayed in Mexico in November 2017. They tested for pretty much every parasite.

    • Lisa says:

      Yes, that can certainly be fungal related. Though far less is known about it in the general public, and it can be extremely difficult to get mainstream medicine to address it, it will affect every system of the body drastically and is a cause of most diseases in the body.

      Approx. 28% of the population cannot clear the toxins produced by mold from the body. You can find out if you’re in that group with an HLA-DR test.

      It is difficult to determine whether the issue may be mold illness (CIRS) or lyme, as the two look almost identical when reviewing symptoms and lyme does not always show on tests. You can, however, find someone who specializes in CIRS and/or have a neuroquant MRI done to determine which of the two is causing the issues. Lyme becomes reactivated from mold also, because the immune system can no longer keep that, viruses, parasites, etc in check, so just know that when the issue is mold, it brings many other issues with it.

  2. Clare Crawley says:

    I find this really interesting – After a lot of reading in the area I have tried to get my neurologist interested in both bacterial and fungal information to no effect . One thing which I notice which might sound weird is that every so often I get this feeling through out my body which I describe as like a toxic bloom running through my body – it feels like poison spreading( heat,weakness,sweating,and a burning sensation).(I described this way before I read about the possible links between fungal and bacterial infection and als ) . After I have one of these times I usually feel sick for several days and inevitably notice more progression in my symptoms. I would love to know how I can get tested for these infections . Also does anyone else get this same sort of reaction in their bodies ?

  3. Louise says:

    Of course it’s hard to say if this is correlation or causation. There could be an underlying immunodeficiency associated with als.

  4. Brittany Mroczek says:

    “These studies using safe antimicrobial compounds could be started immediately after approval of these trials”
    What trials are you specifically referring to?
    Thank you

  5. Сегей says:

    Question to the researchers: what if treatment with systemic antifungal drugs can stop ALS? … Try it, dear … I am 37 and I want to live a full life for a long time !!! … and defeat the ALS monster!

  6. Bill DeMay says:

    They didn’t mention or I missed it, were these same fungal and bacterial findings in non als people? We’re unique to us? I wonder why we couldn’t get these safe antimicrobials to use now. “Safe” seems less risky than ALS. Not much to lose.

  7. Jill says:

    Are High Protein Levels in CSF fluid related to ALS ? I also have Mixed Connective Tissue Disorder… Thank you kindly for the article !

  8. Nigel Jones says:

    I emailed one of the authors.
    He recommended Fluconazole 200-400 mg per day and
    Doxicicline 100mg every 12 hours, this treatment should be
    Continued for six months and then the Neurologist has to evaluate if the treatment has had a positive effect.

    • Leah Doll says:

      I sent this article to my neurologist and he said doxycycline is actually been found to be harmful to ALS patients. So there goes my little burst of hope

      • Linda Yauch says:

        When these infections are dying off, your symptoms get worse before they get better. Maybe that is what he is referring to. There are herbs and stuff that actually kill off the lyme and coinfections better than the drugs. Hard part is finding a naturopath doc that is knowledgeable and affordable since insurance doesn’t cover it.

      • Hi find a Lyme Literate Medical Doctor LLMD looks st the ILADS site for names. Get a Western Blot test done by Igenex in California. They will mail you the kit. Also look up Dr. Richard Horowitz and the M.S.I.D.S document. Do this survey of symptoms. If you score high enough GET TESTED. Hope this helps Berni.

      • Barry says:

        My wife was diagnosed with als in 2014 and it was hard work to get anything other than riluzole,in the uk, which in female diminshes the lung function. Get a Test for lymes from tropical diseases and insist on ceftriaxone, it’s still working good for her after all we are individual and 1 drug might not work for others.

    • Garçon says:

      Bonjour Nigel Jones, avez-vous réussi a obtenir l antibiothérapie ?
      100 mg de doxicicline ?
      Pathologie Sla et également si cela, eue un effet positif ressenti ?
      Merci d avance de votre réponse.
      Cordialement Aurélie Garçon
      Via Messenger, Facebook

  9. Steph Smiley says:

    Please check out the symptoms of lyme disease, bartonella and babesia. The later being a blood parasitic. Lyme and babesia can cause body burning, aches, pains, GI problems, headaches, leg pains and aches, memory loss, bells palsy, cognitive dysfunction, neurological problems as well as many, many other symptoms. Certain infections cannot be eradicated with a two week course of antibiotics.

  10. syd says:

    i told my neuros (dozen) that als didnt fall from pluton, it must be toxicity caused by bacteria or so!!! they laugh at me. i dismissed them all and started my own protocol with antibiotics.

      • syd says:

        right now i am using ceftriaxone for 3 weeks, and after that i will combine dox. with antifungal for a long(er) period.

          • Alex says:

            I am not syd so I cannot answer for him. But I use anti-fungal drug Fluconazole for 30 days already (300mg per day) and don’t see any positive effect so I am likely to stop soon.
            As for anti bacterial drugs as doxycycline I found several articles in internet which say that such Tetracyclines drugs was found useless or even harmfull in case of ALS (there were some trials), so I doubt its a good idea to use them, but its your choice of course.

  11. Randall Gobbell says:

    I have said this since my husband was diagnosed, he has faught fungus a long long time before diagnosis, and there has been cases of fungus reaching the brain, I cant help but believe it. We have battled it worse since he was diagnosed, patches come up all over his face, and just peel off. his scalp and chest, neck, ears, etc. its all over and some resemble ringworm all over him. I truly believe this has something to do with it. Also he has done radicava for over a year and it makes the itching and patches ten times worse. It horrifying to watch him. I wish they would not just treat als with symptoms and actually study it. there needs to be more links between each doctor that they see. to compare the notes with both differences and common factors. And I have also said Flaka though no I wouldnt try is apparently hitting the same nerves in people that als is. Als cant move the limbs where flaka moves them uncontrollably. We would volunteer for study we done spent 300000.00 in two years out of pocket. Did ozone iv therapy, the PK protocol, we treated for ebstein barr. you name it. Went all natural and organic….

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