Shingles infection may awaken dormant neurological herpes viruses, causing inflammation and accumulation of Alzheimer’s associated proteins in the brain.

Common Viruses May Be Triggering Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia in older adults and the 7th leading cause of death in the United States, according to the National Institute on Aging. It is a debilitating progressive illness that slowly destroys cognitive function and memory It can begin almost imperceptibly, often masquerading in the early months or years as forgetfulness that is very common in older age. What causes Alzheimer disease remains largely a mystery. But researchers using a three-dimensional human tissue culture model mimicking the brain, have shown that varicella zoster virus (VZV), which commonly causes chickenpox and shingles, may activate herpes simplex (HSV), another common virus, to set in motion the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. The study was conducted by scientists at Tufts University and the University of Oxford.

Normally HSV-1 – one of the main variants of the herpes simplex virus — lies dormant within the neurons of the brain. However, when it is activated it leads to the accumulation of tau and amyloid beta proteins and loss of neuronal function. These are signature elements found in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. “Our results suggest one pathway to Alzheimer’s disease, caused by a VZV infection which creates inflammatory triggers that awaken HSV in the brain,” said Dana Cairns, GBS12, a research associate in the Tufts University Biomedical Engineering Department. “While we demonstrated a link between VZV and HSV-1 activation, it’s possible that other inflammatory events in the brain could also awaken HSV-1 and lead to Alzheimer’s disease.”

Source: This news is originally published by scitechdaily

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