recently have we been talking about the possible relationship between gum
disease and Alzheimer’s, but two more recent studies have also highlighted a
strong association between the herpes simplex virus and this terrible disease
of the brain, which causes memory loss. Two studies by Swedish researchers show
why these associations have been made.
first study found that when the HSV1 virus (the strain of herpes virus that often
causes the common cold sore) was dormant in a body, and then became reactivated,
the HSV1 reacted with certain proteins, forming the same chemicals that cause
the Alzheimer’s disease to develop. It is thought that the proteins helped the
herpes virus travel via the nerves to the brain. In turn, the proteins were not
being transported and distributed as they normally would, the proteins then forming
amyloid plaques, a known cause of Alzheimer’s.
recent study by the Swedish team involved 3,432 people who were tested for the
disease roughly 11 years after their blood samples had been taken and showed
that the risk of Alzheimer’s doubled in individuals who carried HSV1 in their
blood. It is thought that the herpes virus might be weakening the immune system,
allowing the virus to spread to the brain, kick starting the process of the
brain’s decline towards dementia.
might come a time when the antivirals used to treat herpes are further developed
to stave off the dreaded Alzheimer’s too. However, this is only if a causal
relationship is confirmed. The Swedish researchers are convinced that the
herpes virus causes a substantial portion of all Alzheimer’s cases, as many as
40-50%, but, so many of the population will carry the HSV virus and not go on
to develop Alzheimer’s at all. Only further study will confirm this
relationship, despite initial proposals and concerns being raised back in the
1980s. This research will potentially inspire another wave of research in an
area that has been relatively dormant in the scientific community until, Hugo
Lovheim at Umea University, and his team, began these studies in 2009.
antivirals such as Aciclovir are prescribed for difficult cold sore outbreaks.
These treatments can help with outbreaks but do not get rid of the virus. They can
help to shorten the period of the outbreak and help ease the pain of the
blisters that form.
You can read more about this study here.