Monthly Archives: July 2019

Prominent Activist Notes Possible Connections Between Fluoroquinolones and ME/CFS

I’m a big fan of Jennifer Brea–an activist and advocate for those with ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis – also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or CFS), and the filmmaker behind the wonderful documentary Unrest. She is also heavily involved with the ME Action Network, “A global, grassroots network for people with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome,” and a blogger on Medium. She is powerful, thoughtful, interesting, insightful, an amazing leader, and she has helped thousands (maybe millions) of people with ME to live with, and maintain hope through, a horrible and debilitating disease. She has brought understanding of the horror of ME to people in a way that is empathetic and thought provoking. She is a wonderful advocate for her community.

AND, I’m excited to tell the “floxed” community…

Fluoroquinolones are on her radar as a possible cause of connective tissue disorders that may lead to ME.

In her July 10, 2019 post, “Onset: Part III (Connections),” she notes that antibiotics are a potential cause of collagen and connective tissue disorders:

Antibiotics: doxycycline, which anecdotally some patients have benefited from, inhibits MMPs. Fluroquinolone antiobiotics, which can produce an ME/CFS-like illness, increases MMPs and in December 2018, the FDA issued a warning against its use in patients with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Marfan Syndrome.”

Indeed, fluoroquinolones increase production of MMPs–a category of enzymes that are capable of degrading all kinds of extracellular matrix proteins including, but not limited to, the structural proteins of the aortic wall.

The article, “Ciprofloxacin enhances the stimulation of matrix metalloproteinase 3 expression by interleukin‐1β in human tendon‐derived cells” notes the following:

In this study, we have shown that the antibiotic ciprofloxacin, which induces tendon pain in some patients (1) and tendon pathology in rodents (3, 4), can increase MMP expression in human tendon‐derived fibroblasts. Specifically, ciprofloxacin potentiated IL‐1β–stimulated expression of MMP‐3 at both the mRNA and protein level.

Tendon pain and degeneration have been associated with an increase in the normal turnover of matrix proteins (9, 10, 12). MMP‐3 has a broad substrate specificity; it is able to degrade matrix components including type III collagen and the proteoglycans aggrecan and versican, and is capable of activating a variety of other MMPs and pro–tumor necrosis factor (11). However, its role in tendon physiology and pathology has not been clearly defined.

Our results raise the possibility that a combination of fluoroquinolone and (fluoroquinolone‐induced) inflammatory mediators might result in the inappropriate or unbalanced expression of MMPs.

Changes in expression of matrix components such as collagen and proteoglycans have also been reported in response to various fluoroquinolones.

The increase in MMP expression may not be the only way that fluoroquinolones damage and destroy connective tissues, but it’s almost certainly one way.

More information about the increase of MMP expression caused by fluoroquinolone antibiotics can be found in the post, “Fluoroquinolones Increase Expression of MMPs” as well as these links:

In a couple posts on this site, I have noted that ME/CFS caused by connective tissue disorders may be proceeded (even caused by) fluoroquinolone exposure. You can read about these theories in the posts Are Fluoroquinolones Causing Connective Tissue Disorders that are Leading to ME/CFS? and Do Fluoroquinolones Cause Cerebrospinal Fluid Leaks?

In Jen Brea’s post she note that there are many causes of collagen and connective tissue disorders, including viral infections, bacterial infections, mold, pregnancy, surgery, car accident, concussion, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and other connective tissue disorders, and sex hormones.

It is likely that many people who suffer from ME/CFS, as well as many “floxies,” have been exposed to several of these triggers. Personally, I was exposed to both fluoroquinolone antibiotics and changes in sex hormones (my period) when the flox bomb went off in me. I don’t think I had an actual infection, but most people also have a concurrent bacterial or viral infection when they take fluoroquinolones. I have also surmised in the past that perhaps floxies (as well as people with ME/CFS) have a yet-to-be-discovered form of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. I also think that there are genetic predispositions to both fluoroquinolone toxicity and ME/CFS, and that the RCCX theory by Dr. Sharon Meglathery is a good place to start when looking at genetic predispositions for all sorts of mysterious illnesses. On the site https://www.rccxandillness.com/ Dr. Meglathery states:

“I believe that the RCCX Theory solves some of medicine and psychiatry’s greatest mysteries. The RCCX Theory explains the co-inheritance of a wide range of overlapping chronic medical conditions in individuals and families (EDS/hypermobility, autoimmune diseases, chronic fatiguing illness, psychiatric conditions, autism, etc.). It explains the underlying pathophysiology of chronic fatiguing illnesses with so many overlapping features (EDS-HT, CFS, Chronic Lyme Disease, Fibromyalgia, toxic mold, Epstein Barr Infection, MCAS, POTS, etc.). And finally, it reveals the gene which I believe confers a predisposition toward brilliance, gender fluidity, autistic features, and stress vulnerability, as well as the entire spectrum of psychiatric conditions (other than schizophrenia which can be co-inherited).”

Though there is significant overlap between fluoroquinolone toxicity and ME/CFS they are not the same, and there are many people suffering from ME/CFS who had other triggers set off their illness. With that said, the evidence that ME/CFS is a connective tissue disorder is mounting, and if a debilitating disease like ME/CFS is caused by disordered connective tissues, perhaps drugs that are known to cause connective tissue disorders (fluoroquinolones) shouldn’t be prescribed by the millions each year.

I appreciate that a leader like Jennifer Brea has the fluoroquinolone connection on her radar, and I hope that those in the ME/CFS community that are floxies as well are able to gain insight and support from both our communities.

I also suggest that everyone watch her wonderful film, Unrest. As a recent floxie hope commenter said, “It’s a good window of what it’s like to live with a chronic illness and I think a great example of what it’s like to have a supportive partner (her husband Omar).” Here’s the trailer:

At the risk of sounding too much like a fan-girl, I’m pretty stoked that fluoroquinolone toxicity is on Jen Brea’s radar, because I think she’s amazing. Read and watch her work, and I think you’ll agree. Much of it will likely resonate with many “floxies” as well.

*****

 

Why All Recovered Floxies Are Only 99% Better

Every Friday Michelle Polacinski, a Floxie as well as the Director and Producer of ‘Floxed,’ sends out a newsletter to those who have subscribed to the ‘Floxed’ newsletter. The Floxed Friday updates are always interesting and thoughtful, and Michelle has given me permission to share them here. 
 
If you would like to receive the Floxed Friday updates directly from Michelle, please subscribe to the Floxed Documentary email list. You can subscribe through THIS LINK. Subscribing also helps Michelle to gain funding for the Floxed Documentary, and she doesn’t send out spam. 
 
The following was written by Michelle: 

It’s hard to bounce back from Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Syndrome. In fact, many people never do. For those who do, you may ask, How do you feel? Are you back to normal? Are you at 100%?

I don’t know a single floxie comfortable with saying they are 100% better. I never have. I also don’t think it’s possible to be “back to normal” or to who you were previously when something like this happens to you.

It’s traumatic. It changes your perspectives on life, on the medical system, on what the heck an antibiotic is, on what you put in your body, and the significance of everyday things. How can you ever be back to who you were, especially when you come back from a horrifying disability?

And no, rarely anyone can say they are 100% better because flare ups happen. Some symptoms never go away. Even if you feel good for years, one day you wake up with the worst chest pain in your life and you wonder, “Is this an aortic aneurysm?”

EBV and Nerve Damage:

I felt this way more recently with the onset of Epstein-Barr virus, which affects approximately 90% of the population, commonly known as mononucleosis or “mono,” and going back to a lot of the same supplements I took every day for years when I was at my worst.

I’ve been dealing with numbness in my hands again and it’s horribly frustrating. This came up after taking cacao, a neurostimulant, and it made me wonder, Are my hands getting better or worse?

A thing we floxies say is that “healing comes in waves.” Really. You’ll feel a symptom and it may come and go over the matter of a few days or weeks or months before you start to feel it get better. Maybe my long-time nerve damage in my hands is going through a healing process again thanks to the cacao or maybe it’s getting worse. I’ll never know and there is probably no PhD, no expert on Planet Earth, who has the answer to that question, so I just have to wait it out like everything else.

So for now, my pee is bright yellow all thanks to high levels of b-vitamins in my system, you know, to stimulate nerve healing, mitochondria healing, and all that stuff. Amy Moser mentioned in our interview that it takes about a month for one inch of nerve to heal and that her nerves are forever damaged after 8 years, so she believes.

Who knows?

What’s next for the Floxed Team:

We have awesome news to share.
We’re finally all meeting in Los Angeles to shoot some of our bigger interviews (shh) with some big researchers and medical professionals in the field next month.

I’m very excited since LA was my home when I was floxed and I can’t wait to meet some of these people I’ve only spoken to online or over the phone. I’ll be meeting even more friends/floxie family while we’re out there and this is my first time back home since getting floxed.

We’re also applying to more grants and we feel very positive about them, especially one that particularly focuses on female filmmakers making films about disability awareness (heck yeah we are).

***Wish us luck and please cross all your fingers and toes that we can get some of these grants. It would push the process along much faster***

Have a great weekend!

Best,

Michelle Polacinski
Floxie, Director, and Producer of ‘Floxed’

 

Study Finds That Antibiotics Make Viral Infections More Deadly

New research out of the Francis Crick Institute in London found that antibiotics can worsen viral infections and increase mortality when viral exposure occurs. The research findings published in Cell Reports, “Microbiota-Driven Tonic Interferon Signals in Lung Stromal Cells Protect from Influenza Virus Infection” noted that:

“Our study argues that caution should be exercised when treating patients with antibiotics. Between 2000 and 2015, worldwide antibiotic consumption is believed to have increased by 65%, much of which may be linked to inappropriate treatment of pollution- and viral-based illnesses (Klein et al., 2018). Our results suggest that inappropriate use of oral antibiotics could predispose patients to more severe influenza, because of reduced antiviral resistance of the epithelia.” (source)

When mice with healthy gut bacteria were infected with the flu, approximately 80% of them survived. However, only a third survived if they were given antibiotics before being infected.

The researchers found that antibiotics increase the vulnerability of the lungs to flu viruses, leading to worse infections and symptoms. They found that the reason for the increase in severity of flu virus symptoms was because signals from gut bacteria helped to prepare the lining of the lungs for the viral infection, and made the viral infection less potent and deadly. When antibiotics wipe out the gut bacteria, they don’t signal for the lung linings to prepare for, and fight, the oncoming flu virus, and the virus is able to multiply and proliferate in the unprepared lung linings.

One of the study’s authors, Dr. Andreas Wack, stated:

“We were surprised to discover that the cells lining the lung, rather than immune cells, were responsible for early flu resistance induced by microbiota. Previous studies have focused on immune cells, but we found that the lining cells are more important for the crucial early stages of infection. They are the only place that the virus can multiply, so they are the key battleground in the fight against flu. Gut bacteria send a signal that keeps the cells lining the lung prepared, preventing the virus from multiplying so quickly.”

Gut bacteria are crucial for cell signaling, and both healthy gut bacteria and proper cell signaling are necessary for the body to mount a proper response to viral infections.

My primary response to this study is a desire to show it to everyone I know that insists on getting a prescription for antibiotics whenever he/she has the sniffles. DON’T TAKE ANTIBIOTICS FOR VIRAL INFECTIONS! They’re not only useless, they’re harmful. And they’re not only harmful because of their side-effects and because they encourage antibiotic resistance, they’re also harmful because disruption of the gut microbiome disrupts cell signaling and the ability of the body to prepare for the viral attack.

My secondary response is to wonder what the specific effect of fluoroquinolone antibiotics (ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, moxifloxacin, ofloxacin, and a few others) is on cell signaling and our ability to fight viral infections. “Microbiota-Driven Tonic Interferon Signals in Lung Stromal Cells Protect from Influenza Virus Infection” isn’t about fluoroquinolones in any way other than peripherally – because fluoroquinolones are antibiotics. However, there have been some recent articles about how fluoroquinolones negatively affect cellular signaling. The study, “Antibiotic-induced release of small extracellular vesicles (exosomes) with surface-associated DNA” published in Nature, found that, “ciprofloxacin induced the release of both DNA (mitochondrial and chromosomal sequences) and DNA-binding proteins on the exofacial surfaces of small extracellular vesicles referred to in this paper as exosomes.” Exosomes are cell signaling molecules, and fluoroquinolones release DNA from them.

I honestly don’t have a hypothesis connecting these two studies, but I do wonder if there are connections. Are all antibiotics inhibiting cellular signaling? Are fluoroquinolones in particular inhibiting cellular signaling? What are the consequences? I am not sure at this point, but if you want to look into these possibilities, more information about FQs and cellular signaling can be found in the post, “Ciprofloxacin Depletes Exosomal DNA” and in “Nature’s Quinolones: The 4Qs” on FluoroquinoloneThyroid.com.

Antibiotics are consequential in ways that weren’t anticipated a decade or two ago. The links between microbial health and immune health are recent discoveries. The study “Microbiota-Driven Tonic Interferon Signals in Lung Stromal Cells Protect from Influenza Virus Infection” shows us that antibiotics actually make viral infections worse. Antibiotics are not benign drugs. They have severe side-effects (as described throughout this site, and to call them simply “side-effects” is an unfortunate understatement), and as discoveries about the importance of balance, health, and diversity of our microbial communities is uncovered, the full breadth of the damage done by these drugs is being uncovered. I’m not saying that they don’t have their place – they do – but they are consequential, and we should fully weigh the consequences before taking any antibiotics.

Sources:

Cell Reports, “Microbiota-Driven Tonic Interferon Signals in Lung Stromal Cells Protect from Influenza Virus Infection

The Independent, “Antibiotics increase chances of mild flu turning deadly, study suggests: The findings show that animals are less likely to survive as the treatment can wipe out gut bacteria

Science Daily, “Antibiotics weaken flu defenses in the lung

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