When you think of Alzheimer’s, what first comes to mind?
You more than likely think of the elderly, the brain and memory. Now, when you think of the herpes simplex virus (HSV), you more than likely associate this disease with STIs and primary infection symptoms, right? Is it possible that Alzheimer’s and herpes is related? If so, how?
The Possible Connection Between Herpes and Alzheimer’s
Herpes causes cold sores, whereas Alzheimer’s causes memory loss — how could they possibly be connected? Throughout the past five years or so, researchers have uncovered a clear link between the two, as those carrying the herpes virus may experience double their risk of Alzheimer’s.
Although most individuals associate herpes with a sexually transmitted disease, this virus actually comes in two forms — type 1 and type 2. It’s estimated that 90 percent of the population are carriers of type 1, which is generally contracted in childhood. This doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that symptoms such as cold sores will develop.
What the Research Has to Say
In a 2014 study, blood plasma was taken from 360 Alzheimer’s patients, along with 360 patients who were living without dementia. The samples were initially taken approximately 9.6 years prior to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. While focusing on the complete sample group, the presence of anti-HSV IgG (immunoglobulin) and IgG antibodies did not increase Alzheimer’s risk.
With that being said, the researchers did find that in cases with 6.6 years or more between the plasma sampling and Alzheimer’s diagnosis, there was a significant association between this disease and the presence of anti-HSV IgG. It was concluded that among the patients who had a follow-up time of 6.6 years or more, the HSV infection was, in fact, associated with Alzheimer’s.
More recently, a 2016 editorial piece was presented by a group of international senior scientists, reporting the connection between two specific types of bacteria and one virus that may cause Alzheimer’s. It was stated that there may be a potential link between this disease and conditions such as the herpes virus and chlamydia.
This editorial highlights past data that has been deemed controversial and in terms of proposals for funding, they have been refused. These researchers say that there’s undisputed evidence that Alzheimer’s disease has a dormant microbial component — which can be awoken by iron dysregulation.
Researchers were also refused funding years ago while suggesting that viruses cause certain types of cancer. Their theory was actually proven true and this led to new treatment options. Found in the blood, the researchers suggest that microbes are able to remain latent in the body. Perhaps this microbial presence causes systematic inflammation?
While focusing specifically on herpes, this virus appears to produce damage in localized regions of the central nervous system in terms of the limbic system, which is associated with cognition, memory, and personality. Although a minority view within the Alzheimer’s research community, the link between infections and the progression of Alzheimer’s disease cannot yet be disregarded.
At the end of the day, there does appear to be a link between both Alzheimer’s and herpes. What that connection may be, is not entirely clear. As research continues to unfold, no new evidence is a waste. If a theory cannot be proven, the research will still provide insight — sometimes, unlocking clues that weren’t intended or expected.