Borrelia Burgdorferi, Collagen, Collagen’s Role in the Nervous System [Research Notes]

Borrelia scavenging for collagen in blood vessels

Citing new research from the Moriarity Lab at the University of Toronto, microbiology professor Holly Ahern says it appears as though the Borrelia bacteria enters the blood, crawls along blood vessels, finds a place to breach and then exits the bloodstream. The bacteria then binds to collagen rich (gelatinous) tissues that predominate in the nervous system linings, the heart linings, and the joints.

“Once established in these locations, the bacteria switches from being motile(moving) to stationary cells that build a biofilm,” says Ahern. “Once the biofilm is established it is extremely hard to kill the bacteria within — not only because there are many bacteria in thick layers but because a proportion of the cells are genetically hardwired to shut down metabolism and exist as dormant persister cells, which are ‘tolerant’ to antibiotics.”


Collagen in the brain, CNS, and PNS

In the central nervous system, collagen is present only in the meninges and vasculature. On the contrary, the peripheral nervous system contains substantial amounts of collagen which effect the function of the nerve (Mei Liu 1988).
The central nervous system, brain, and spinal cord are completely enclosed by connective tissue membranes, the meninges. There are three meninges: dura mater, arachnoid, and pia mater. The dura mater is the strongest, thickest, and outermost membrane. It is chiefly made up of thick collagen fibers. The arachnoid is thin, netlike structure. The pia mater is a thin connective tissue net closely adherent to the surface of the brain and spinal cord. The arachnoid has no blood vessels. In contrast, the pia mater contains a large number of vessels. Both meninges, together called the leptomeninges, consist of interlacing collagenous bundles surrounded by fine elastic networks (Shellswell et al. 1979). The main cellular elements are fibroblasts and macrophages.
Although the brain parenchyma contains no collagen, the presence of glycosaminoglycans in the central nervous system has been documented by histochemical and biochemical methods (Robinson and Green 1962; Singh and Bachhwat 1965; Castej6n 1970; Margolis et al. 1976; Branford White and Hud- son 1977; Vitello et al. 1978; Kiang et al. 1978; Margolis and Margolis 1979; Bertolotto and Margassi 1984). Their physiological role has not been uncovered. It is suggested that proteoglycans take part in the regulation of the ionic environment and fluid volume in the brain as well as in the storage and releaseof some neurotransmitters or enzymes of their metabolism. Glycosaminoglycans in the brain are produced by the glial cells (Glimelius et al. 1978; Dorfman and Ho 1970; Norling et al. 1978). This is

Kucharz E.J. (1992) Collagen in the Nervous System. In: The Collagens: Biochemistry and Pathophysiology. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg