Investigation of the Microbial and Molecular Correlates of Morgellons Disease

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Morgellons disease is a multisystem infectious disease that is controversial in the medical community. This controversy lies in the fact that there are currently no markers for diagnosis and signs and symptoms are often mistaken for a psychiatric disorder known as parasitic psychosis or delusional infestation, the belief of parasites invading the body. Due to the lack of evidence to the etiology or transmission of this disease the debate surrounding Morgellons is considerable.

Morgellons disease does not discriminate and is found within all socio-economic groups, as well as any age group. The distinct feature is the presence of microscopic subcutaneous fibers. These fibers can range in a multitude of colors and are virtually indestructible by heat or chemical means, making analysis difficult by conventional methods. This condition can be debilitating and disabling, as nonhealing lesions with unique colored fiber-like filaments emerge from open wounds. Crawling sensations on and under the skin, with intense itching, severe fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and short-term memory loss are also associated with the sign and symptoms of Morgellons disease.

The aim of this study is to investigate if an infectious etiology of the dermopathy is present. Recent research suggests Borrelia burgdorferi as the causative agent in dermatological specimens, providing a baseline for a spirochetal cause. In this study, lesions from patients are collected and deidentified to remain anonymous to researchers. The lesions are studied for unusual microbial organisms; specifically, Bartonella henselae, Helicobacter pylori, Borrelia burgdorferi, and Treponema denticola
Using epithelial tissue samples from patients, DNA is extracted and amplified using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with specific primers designed with our bacteria of interest. After amplification, samples are analyzed on 1% agarose gel electrophoresis. The agarose gel is stained using ethidium bromide (EtBr) and viewed using a UV IT Transilluminator. If bands are present, the bands will be extracted, purified, and sent to OSU’s core facility to be sequenced. Using bioinformatics tools, the sequenced information is analyzed to verify our genes of interest. 
We conclude the use of these methods and various strains allows for potential etiologies to be explored in order to help determine if an infectious etiology of the dermopathy is present. Unusual microbial organisms have been identified in dermatological specimens suggesting the presents of a co-infection. Future research needs to be conducted to continue exploring etiologies to support our findings. Through further analysis and DNA extraction, hopefully, the answers to this unsolved mystery will be revealed and bring a better understanding to the medical community leading to a cure.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 18 Feb 2022
EventOklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences Research Week 2022 : Poster Presentation - Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, Tulsa, United States
Duration: 14 Feb 202218 Feb 2022


ConferenceOklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences Research Week 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Morgellons disease
  • Lyme disease
  • fibers
  • Borrelia burgdorferi


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