The herpes simplex virus infection increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and being a carrier of certain antibodies against the virus doubles the risk, two recent epidemiological studies confirmed.
Herpes Simplex is the causing agent of common cold sores. The infection caused by this virus affects almost 90% of the population. The American Academy of Dermatology stated, “getting this virus for just one time makes the person its carrier for lifetime.”
Dr. Hugo Lovheim, study author and an associate professor in the community medicine and rehabilitation department at Umea University in Sweden said, “The study is a breakthrough. Whether the treatment of Herpes infection with antiviral drugs might slow the Alzheimer’s progression is not yet known, but is definitely worth investigating in clinical studies.”
There is no clear mechanism mentioned in the study, that’s why experts didn’t accept the correlation between herpes infection and Alzheimer’s disease.
“From time to time data, such as these appear in the literature, but they do not address causality or mechanism. The new data are similarly not definitive, and they do not say anything new about the association,” Dr. Sam Gandy, director of the Center for Cognitive Health at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City said.
Herpes virus eventually weakens the immune system of the body which enables the virus to spread to the brain where it leads the person towards dementia, study authors wrote.
In one of the studies, researchers followed 3,500 people for about 11 years and found that having certain antibodies against herpes virus doubled the chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease.
In another study, researchers took blood samples of 360 Alzheimer’s patients on average 9.6 years before the disease was diagnosed in them. Then they compared the samples with blood samples of healthy individuals and found no Alzheimer’s and herpes infection relation. However, when the samples of the people taken 6.6 years before were analyzed, significant association was found between the both.
Lovheim said, “Our analysis reveals that the herpes virus causes a significant proportion of all cases of Alzheimer’s disease — nearly 40 to 50 percent.”