Mycoplasma Infection

Mycoplasma Infection

     Mycoplasma infections have for years been addressed in medical literature, but more recently have regained interest and with it the awareness of their role as trigger factors causing different forms of arthritis.

     The role of Mycoplasma in arthritis has been debated for years. Mycoplasma species differ from bacteria in that they are very small, and they lack a cell wall. Mycoplasmas are the smallest organisms that are able to survive outside of cells. They are a major cause of respiratory disease. They can remain in respiratory secretions for a long time after the signs of infections have disappeared. They can also be found in other organs causing disease. These organs include the genitals, the brain, and joints. They can also be found transiently in the blood and sometimes with the peripheral white blood cells, also called leukocytes. The organisms are then transported to different parts of the body. They enter the tissue in different areas and cause injury to the cell mucosa. Once this damage has occurred, the body frequently is unable to clear the Mycoplasma from the site of infection without antimicrobial treatment. They can reside for years in the tissue without being detected. Mycoplasmas have also been found in individuals who do not have apparent disease. Our research showed that 15% or less of healthy individuals have Mycoplasma infection. They can also be innocent bystanders (commensals). Since Mycoplasma is difficult to recover by routine culture once this has occurred, the laboratory must use other recovery methods. The two most common methods are ELISA, which detects antibodies of current and past infections, and PCR, which detects the genetic fingerprint of the Mycoplasma infection within the cells.

     The genus of Mycoplasma is comprised of 69 species of which 13 can be pathogenic. Some infect humans and others infect plants or animals.

     At the Arthritis Center of Riverside, we have conducted research for many years to determine the relationship between infectious microorganisms and different forms of arthritis. We have also published some of our results in scientific journals

      Our published studies have shown that approximately 50% of the patients who have rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and Gulf War illness, have evidence of Mycoplasma infection. Mycoplasma infection can be difficult to treat. Sometimes it requires a combination of oral and parenteral antibiotics for prolonged periods.



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Arthritis Center of Riverside
11725 Slate Avenue
Riverside, CA  92505
Tel: 951.352.1700
Fax: 951.352.9117

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     *The information in this website is not intended to replace a rheumatology textbook nor be a complete update of the rheumatology scientific literature.  It should not be misconstrued as personal medical advice.  Rather, it portrays Dr. Al Robert Franco's interests in the field of rheumatology, namely, the interrelationship between infections and rheumatic diseases and how this applies to the treatment of arthritis.