Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Can herpes virus cause Alzheimer's disease?

Can herpes virus cause Alzheimer's disease? Can herpes virus cause Alzheimer's disease?
Anna Jefferson | 25 June, 2018, 07:24

They found that numerous genes that clicked on during Alzheimer's are the same genes that activate when the body is fighting a virus.

Exploring the significance of viruses in the brain is still at its early stages, and a key question is whether pathogens play an active role in causing disease or are opportunistic, taking advantage of neural deterioration. The researchers found higher levels of HHV-6A and HHV-7 in Alzheimer's patient brain samples compared with brains unaffected by Alzheimer's.

It has always been a controversial theory about Alzheimer's disease, often dismissed by experts as a sketchy cul-de-sac off the beaten path from mainstream research. After an 18-month study examining the effects of nutritional compounds found in foods such as trout, broccoli and peppers on people with Alzheimers, the team from the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland (NRCI) claims to have done a ‘statistically significant finding. However, one controversial theory asserts that Alzheimer's may be caused by numerous viruses that affect the brain. The study in no way suggests that Alzheimer's disease is contagious or can be passed from person to person like a virus - or that having cold sores increases a person's risk of dementia.

Nobody really knows what causes Alzheimer's disease. While this discovery surprised the researchers, they continued to follow the path and what they learned was that the genes were "two incredibly common and closely related herpesviruses that are known to cause childhood rashes and fevers", and they are so common that nearly everyone has them. "But what's clear is that they're perturbing networks and participating in networks that directly accelerate the brain towards the Alzheimer's topology". But still, the findings of the study open doors for new treatment options for a disease which has many of failed trails.

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The researchers in the new study looked at data on 622 brains from people who had had signs of the disease and 322 from people who did not seem to be affected by it. In fact, in North America, approximately 90% of children have at least one of the strains in their blood in their early lives. In most cases, though, the virus is latent. "It therefore doesn't change what we already know about the causes of dementia, doesn't mean that having cold sores put you at increased risk of getting it and people shouldn't be unduly anxious".

They found a lot of interactions, suggesting the viruses could even switch on and off Alzheimer's-related genes. Rather, the findings show viral DNA sequences and activation of biological networks - the interrelated systems of DNA, RNA, proteins and metabolites - may interact with molecular, genetic and clinical aspects of Alzheimer's.

"All these Alzheimer's brains in these separate, major brain banks have previously unsuspected substantial populations of herpesvirus genomes and that deserves an explanation wherever it falls in the pathogenesis", Gandy said.

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