Morgellons fibers at 100× magnification. Note floral-shaped fibers on external surface (top) and pavement epithelium on internal surface (bottom) of epidermal section.

“the fibers are composed of keratin and are products of keratinocytes”



Our three patients had features of MD that are commonly described

in the medical literature, including insidious onset, dermatological

signs and systemic symptoms, lack of response to immunosuppressive

treatment and association with tickborne diseases [1-3]. Case 1 had

skin lesions confined to the hands (Figure 1A), while Cases 2 and 3 had

disseminated skin lesions over the head, trunk and extremities (Figures

1B and 1C). In addition, Case 3 had symptoms associated primarily

with hair follicles, and a sensation of change in hair composition and

texture is often reported by Morgellons patients [1,10]. These MD

patterns have been recognized in prior studies [1,2] and we propose

a classification of localized MD versus disseminated MD based on

the distribution of the dermopathy. Although the reason for this

dermopathy distribution is unknown, the location of skin lesions may

be related to the cell of origin of the fibers seen in lesions or under the

skin, as discussed below. Further study of the dermopathy distribution

in MD is warranted.

The present study demonstrates Morgellons filaments that clearly

originate from a layer of pavement epithelial cells visibly held together

by desmosomes (Figure 2). The predominant cells found in pavement

epithelial tissue are keratinocytes. We also noted MD fibers that clearly

originate from the inner root sheaths of hair follicles (Figures 2-4), and

keratinocytes are the predominant cell type in this tissue. Keratinocytes

produce the biofiber keratin. A cross section of BDD filaments likewise

demonstrates filament origin from cells beneath the stratum corneum

(Figure 5), consistent with descriptions in the literature of growth from

keratinocytes [14,19]. Thus MD filaments and BDD filaments appear

to be similar in formation at the cellular level, both originating from

keratinocytes in the stratum spinosum or stratum basale. MD differs

from BDD, however, in that MD filaments appear to originate from

follicular keratinocytes as well as epidermal keratinocytes. Both MD

filaments and BDD filaments fluoresce in UV light (Figures 2-5). We

have also shown for the first time that MD filaments contain keratin

(Figure 6), and keratin staining was positive using a “pankeratin”

monoclonal antibody but negative with a more restricted keratin

ligand. This observation indicates that the fibers originate from specific

tissues that require further characterization.

The observation that MD fibers are found beneath unbroken

skin, may grow from an epidermal matrix and are associated with

hair follicles suggests that they are not self-implanted textile fibers

[1-3]. The filament formation described in MD is associated with a

high likelihood of Bb infection [1,10]. BDD in cattle is associated with

hyperkeratosis, keratin filament formation and spirochetal infection

[12-20]. Hyperkeratosis and excessive keratin production associated

with chronic inflammation has been demonstrated in humans with

cholesteatoma [23,24],and alterations in keratinocyte expression of

HLA markers and tissue enzymes have been reported in association with

Bb infection [25,26]. These observations suggest that hyperkeratosis

and keratin filament production associated with spirochetal infection

is a plausible explanation for the clinical and microscopic findings in


Hyaline and colored filaments from the three case studies

demonstrate iridescence and an appearance consistent with keratin.

Red, blue, purple and black are colors found in keratin and are

associated with structural coloring and/or melanin production [27-

30]. Clusters of early filaments described in Case 1 demonstrate that

fibers are anchored and growing from a basal epithelial cell matrix.

They are clearly biological and human in nature and are not implanted

textile fibers. Various growth stages of fibers attached to epidermal

matrices have been observed. These range from early filaments isolated

or in clusters (that are only a few μm in diameter and 10 μm long) to

long tangled mats (with fibers 10 μm or wider in diameter and several

hundred μm long). Similar filament structures have previously been

reported and photographed in MD [31]. Textile fibers have never

been produced in this manner, and the suggestion that these unusual

formations are manufactured textile fibers is not credible.

Longer fibers with tapered ends anchored to a cellular matrix were

observed in Case 1, demonstrating filament evolution. Colored fibers

were often found near larger hair follicles or appeared to have follicular

bulb-like ends, suggesting an association with hair follicles and follicular

keratinocytes. Our chemical studies suggest that MD filaments and

BDD fibers react to caustic agents in a manner similar to normal hair,

although MD filaments appeared to be more susceptible and BDD

fibers less susceptible to the caustic agents Table 1. In preliminary

studies using scanning electron microscopy, the presence of scales on

a blue filament indicated that this specimen was a fine hair (D’Alba

L and Shawkey MD, unpublished observation, December 2011). This

finding suggests that some of the colored fibers of follicular origin may

in fact be modified hairs. Differences between the keratinocytes found

in the inner root sheath of hair follicles and keratinocytes found in the

basal skin layer may account for the differences of location, structure,

coloring and size of fibers seen in this study [32,33]. The effect of

spirochetes on keratinocyte function may also play a role in altered

keratin production associated with MD and BDD [22,25,26].

In conclusion, MD lesions were not caused by self-mutilation or

delusions in the three cases presented here. The photographic evidence

clearly demonstrates that the unusual fibers or filaments described in

this study are not self-implanted textile fibers. All three patients had

symptoms and laboratory findings consistent with systemic illness and

indicative of tickborne disease. Neuropsychiatric testing was normal

in two cases and influenced by the disease in the third case, and all

three patients were examined by a medical practitioner who confirmed

the presence of fibers underneath unbroken skin compatible with a

diagnosis of MD.

We have demonstrated that filaments found in MD patients

have chemical, physical and immunohistological features of keratin.

The presence of individual filaments attached to epithelial tissue is

consistent with keratin and suggests that the filaments are produced

by keratinocytes. Morgellons filaments have been photographed

growing from pavement epithelial cells, and this process resembles

the evolution of filaments seen in BDD. Because BDD is a disease in

which spirochetes have been identified as primary etiologic agents,

and spirochetal sero-reactivity has been associated with MD, it is

reasonable to assume that spirochetal infection plays an important role

in MD filament production. Further immunohistological and electron

microscopy studies are needed to solve the mystery of Morgellons


Striking iridescence of a red fiber from Patient 1 (100x magnification).


Morgellons Disease A Crock Says CDC; Not So Says Bay Area Doctor

Is a Joni Mitchell comeback concert in the works?

April 20, 2012 By Liz Smith, Tribune Media Services

Miss Mitchell, held up as the high priestess of folk/pop music by millions, has been out of sight in recent years. She has concentrated on her painting.

Less pleasantly, she suffers from something called “Morgellons Syndrome,” which she has described as “a slow, unpredictable killer.”

Obviously this is way above my head, although I do understand some of it and hope to learn more. The question for me is what is the underlying cause of damaged keratinocytes in the first place. Nanoparticles in chemTrails? Genetically-modified food chain? Something changed in our environment to cause our cells to become damaged which then produced fibers composed of keratin.


Rose Rosetta!/rosettasister!/blessedistruth