Herpes May Cause Alzheimer’s

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The herpes virus (HSV-1) accelerates the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) – Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (1)

Interestingly, a study has shown that encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) caused by the herpes virus (HSV-1) affects the same region of the brain as Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) (1).

Moreover, the herpes virus increases the levels of amyloid plaques (insoluble fibrous proteins), which are the most typical feature of an Alzheimer’s brain (1).

The bad news is that finding an HSV-1 specific antibody in standard lab results tells the doctor that there is “an increased risk of dementia (1).”

alzheimers disease


However, the good news, according to study authors, is that antiviral treatment can help. “Recent data also showed that antivirals reduce the formation of key AD proteins in cell cultures acutely infected with HSV-1 (1).” In addition, “Antiviral agents targeting HSV-1 might slow AD progression (1).”

An article published on April 4, 2011 on ScienceDaily.com explained how the herpes virus attacks the brain. Basically, after infection the virus travels along the nerve to the brain.

“Herpes infects mucous membranes, such as the lip or eye, and generates viral particles, these viral particles burst out of the cells of the mucous membrane and enter sensory nerve cells where they travel inside the nerve toward the brain (2).”

Large numbers of infected individuals will go on to develop neurological symptoms.

This is possible since HSV-1 establishes a latent infection. It sets up residence in nerve centers. Specifically, it establishes a latent infection “in human peripheral sensory ganglia” according to a study published in the journal Immunological Reviews in August, 1996 (3).

The bottom line?

When the latent virus reactivates, neurological conditions may develop.


(1) Mancuso R1, Baglio F, Cabinio M, Calabrese E, Hernis A, Nemni R, Clerici M. “Titers of herpes simplex virus type 1 antibodies positively correlate with grey matter volumes in Alzheimer’s disease.” J Alzheimers Dis. 2014;38(4):741-5

(2) Sciencedaily.com – Science News – “Herpes linked to Alzheimer’s disease: ‘Cold sores’ connected to cognitive decline.” April 4, 2011

(3) Joseph R. Berger, MD; Sidney Houff, MD, PhD “Neurological Complications of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 Infection” JAMA Neurology
Published May 2008

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