Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Herpes a precursor to Alzheimer's?

              Three new studies have concluded that Herpes may account for over 50% of Alzheimer cases. Researchers found that people with severe cases of herpes when treated with antiviral drugs also have a decrease in later senile dementia, which is often caused by the Alzheimer's disease.

               Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV1) is a common virus that results in the appearance of cold sores throughout a person's life. By old age, most people will have contracted the virus which often lies dormant and can flare up when the body is under stress or has a weakened immune system. Once, you've contracted HSV1, the virus will permanently remain in your body and isn't able to be removed by the body or by administered drugs. It was found that HSV1 causes protein deposits that cause plaque build-up between neurons causing them to tangle up and that this is a key characteristic go Alzheimers. One professor also found that patients with cold sores caused by HSV1 were more likely to a have a genetic variant known as APOE-e4, which has been linked to increase a person's risk of developing Alzheimer's. Researchers have theorized that people with this genetic variant have more frequent and harmful flare ups in the HSV1 infected brain cells. These flare ups cause a build-up damage that later leads to the development of Alzheimer's.

                Researchers mainly observed data collected by the country Taiwan, where they enroll almost all their people into the National Health Insurance Research Database. Three studies were conducted to observe any correlation between herpes and Alzheimer's and results showed that people with herpes were at a severely higher risk of developing senile dementia.
                 A secondary finding of this research is that the use of antiviral drugs may result in a dramatic decrease in one's risk of developing dementia. Further research still needs to be done to prove any type of causation between herpes and dementia. Also, further cases of mild herpes need to be studied since only people with severe HSV1 were studied. Yet, this study definitely provides an incentive to push for antiviral drugs as a therapy for dementia and to develop an HSV1 vaccine which  could become an effective treatment for the two diseases. The antiviral drug would be key in destroying plaque build-up between neurons which in turn would decrease someone developing the characteristics of Alzheimer's.

-Maddie Powers



  1. This is kind of a scary topic as I feel like it is fairly common for many people to develop cold sores, even at a young age. Who knew it could have such a lasting impact on your life. I wonder where they could do further research and to what extent on this topic, as well as if this would possibly result in more options of treatment?

    Alexandra McGuire

    1. I too had the same reaction when I first read the title of this study and was shocked how something so prevalent could have a cause and effect on a highly degenerative disease. The next step for researchers is to examine more mild/less severe cases of HSV1 and see if those results match what they've found with more severe cases of HSV1. They also are looking to develop a antiviral that they can effectively test as a treatment for Alzheimer's and see what the results are. Finally, they have determined correlation but now they want to determine if there is a cause and effect between the two diseases.

      -Maddie Powers

  2. These new findings are great incentive to develop a vaccine for the herpes simplex virus 1 since both HSV1 and Alzheimer's are both very widespread and global, and it is almost surprising that there hasn't been any success in finding a vaccine for the virus. The ubiquity of HSV1 is even greater than one would think when it is coupled with it's dormancy and how easy it is to transmit. Are there any plans to do further research and, if so, what do they involve?

    Posted by Jamie Courtney