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Subject: Cytokines, Flare Cycles and the Immune System
Janis Kuby writes in her textbook Immunology, 3rd ed., WH Freeman and Co, New York, 1997:
are any of numerous secreted, low-molecular weight proteins that regulate the intensisty and duration of the immune response by exerting a variety of effects on lymphocytes and other immune cells".
Cytokines and Lyme Borreliosis
The induction of cytokines by live or dead Borrelia burgdorferi (in particular their outer surface proteins, Osp) has been investigated in a number of labs:
Borrelia burgdorferi Outer Surface Proteins Stimulate Periodic Immune Response
Undamped Feedback Oscillations
Osp's are thymus-independent antigens of type 1 (TI-1 antigens) that do not leave a lasting impression on our immune system, i.e. produce no "immunologic memory", which is the attribute of the immune system mediated by memory cells whereby a second encounter with an antigen induces a faster start and a heightened state of immune reactivity (Kuby, see above). Therefore our immune response to Osp is the same regardless of how many times Osp has already appeared in our system before.
Because of the missing memory effect, the immune system gets locked into undamped "feedback oscillations" (also called flare cycles), as long as Osp in our body leaves the niches and enters the compartments under immune surveillance. Niches are e.g. compartments poorly accessible to the immune system or antibiotic.
Oscillations Synchronized with the Menstrual Cycle
In my case, I have observed an end of the feedback oscillations after (a little more than) one year of treatment with cephalosporins. The symptoms thereafter still appeared in cycles, but clustered in the luteal phase (days 12 .. 14 before the next menses) (http://www.lymenet.de/symptoms/cycles/statistics.htm#figviii32).
I have tentatively interpreted this as a variation of the immune system's sensitivity to the inflammation caused by Osp, the sensitivity being hightened in the luteal phase (http://www.lymenet.de/symptoms/cycles/statistics.htm#f&m).
This interpretation is consistent with the observation of Barkley M, Harris N and Szantyr B that in women the immune response varies with the clock frequency of the menstrual cycle (http://www.igenex.com/newsset1.htm).
version: December 3, 1999
Send comments to Joachim Gruber.