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by Alicia Ni Ghrainne, Saturday, 22 November 2014 | Categories: Sexual Health

Only 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.

The 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.

Another 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.

There 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.

Currently, 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.





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