Content » Vol 67, Issue 3

Evidence for spirochetal origin of circumscribed scleroderma (morphea)

Aberer E, Stanek G, Ertl M, Neumann R.
DOI: 10.2340/0001555567225231


Acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans (ACA) and morphea are clinically distinct skin diseases with some common features and possible coexistence. We found antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi in eight of fifteen patients with morphea. Six of them had IgG antibodies and two both IgG and IgM antibodies. Four of the eight seropositive and five of the seven seronegative patients had been treated with high dose penicillin previously. Spirochetal organisms could be cultured in Barbour-Stoenner-Kelly´s medium from a skin biopsy of one seropositive untreated patient. Spirochetes were recovered from histological sections in three of eight, two seropositive and one seronegative morphea and in one of three erythema chronicum migrans patients by an avidin-biotin immunoperoxidase method. The similar clinical picture of ACA and morphea, the response to penicillin therapy in both entities, the presence of antispirochetal antibodies, the isolation of spirochetes in culture and the detection of spirochetal organisms on histological sections suggest a close relationship among these diseases. We conclude that morphea may represent a Borrelia infection. The correlation to ACA is discussed.


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