It has long been known that spirochetes form clumps or micro colonies in vitro and in vivo. Cortical spirochetal colonies in syphilitic dementia were considered as reproductive centers for spirochetes. Historic and recent data demonstrate that senile plaques in Alzheimer's disease (AD) are made up by spirochetes. Spirochetes, are able to form biofilm in vitro. Senile plaques are also reported to contain elements of biofilm constituents. We expected that AβPP and Aβ (the main components of senile plaques) also occur in pure spirochetal biofilms, and bacterial DNA (an important component of biofilm) is also present in senile plaques. Histochemical, immunohistochemical, and in situ hybridization techniques and the TUNEL assay were used to answer these questions. The results obtained demonstrate that Aβ and DNA, including spirochete-specific DNA, are key components of both pure spirochetal biofilms and senile plaques in AD and confirm the biofilm nature of senile plaques. These results validate validate previous observations that AβPP and/or an AβPP-like amyloidogenic protein are an integral part of spirochetes, and indicate that bacterial and host derived Aβ are both constituents of senile plaques. DNA fragmentation in senile plaques further confirms their bacterial nature and provides biochemical evidence for spirochetal cell death. Spirochetes evade host defenses, locate intracellularly, form more resistant atypical forms and notably biofilms, which contribute to sustain chronic infection and inflammation and explain the slowly progressive course of dementia in AD. To consider co-infecting microorganisms is equally important, as multi-species biofilms result in a higher resistance to treatments and a more severe dementia.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; AβPP; Borrelia burgdorferi; Treponema spirochetes; amyloid; amyloid beta; bacteria; biofilm; chronic infection; colonies; spirochetes; thioflavin S.