Friday, June 22, 2018

Is There A Viral Component To The Development Of Alzheimer's Disease?


Does a specific viral infection (or infections) contribute to the emergence of Alzheimer's disease?


A new paper in the scientific journal Neuron suggests this might be the case, based on both clinical correlation studies and functional experimental data.

The paper is....Here.

And you will find a very thoughtful, understandable and, perhaps most importantly, mostly hype-free commentary on the findings and implications in a Science Blogs post by Derek Lowe: 

"...A team led out of a Mt. Sinai research group has gone over a pretty large sample of Alzheimer’s brain tissue (622 patients who died with the disease, and over three hundred control brains as well), sequencing infectious organism DNA, looking for changes in the proteome, etc. They find that aging brains in normal patients display plenty of viral signatures (as indeed is probably the case in many other tissues). But the Alzheimer's disease samples were particularly enriched in herpesviruses 6A and 7, a result that repeated across three independent cohorts from different geographical locations...


...But are these viruses a cause of the disease, or are they something that shows up later? That is, do HHV 6A/7 give you Alzheimer’s, or does having Alzheimer’s bring on those viral infections? This has been the problem with many previous proposals for an infectious agent, and it’s a very difficult objection to overcome. I think that this is the first study, though, that has made it over that hurdle. The paper shows that viral DNA is, in fact, incorporated into neurons from the affected regions of the brain. What’s more, analysis of both protein and mRNA levels suggest that such infection produces changes in several transcriptional regulators (specifically, a set of zinc-finger transcription factors and G-quadraplex-associated proteins) that in turn affect expression of a number of very suggestive proteins downstream..."

It looks to be a pretty impressive, and potentially important, body of work. Furthermore, apparently there is more like it coming, independently, from another group.

But....Just to be clear, this is not in my field so it is entirely possible that I might be missing something obvious on the rigour side of the ledger.

Still, it made for most interesting reading late on an early summer Friday afternoon.

In case you haven't noticed, Mr. Lowe's blog and some other life/bio/medical sciency stuff can be found regularly over on the left side bar....I'll probably have more to say about this kind of stuff in the future as I struggle to occasionally fling myself from the endless poli-writing obsession cycles...



Lulymay said...

And that is exactly where I found Mr. Lowe's piece, on your sidebar.
Even though I'm not of a scientific mind (hated science in school) and pondered my way through his piece, I still found it very interesting and found a small reason for hope.

A younger person in my family is the resident science (geek?) one who tells me some of the stuff her company is doing with genome sequencing and that too sounds promising. We have some pretty smart young people doing some impressive work in these fields and we should all be proud of their progress, as well as make sure our politicians fund this kind of education well into the future.

Anonymous said...

remenber when ulcwers were caused by stress now you get a perscription for that.,

e.a.f. said...

Thank you very much for posting this article. As many of us age or having aging friends and family its on a lot of minds. It may even help some of us leave our brains to science for studies on this subject.

Science is making progress. At one time doctors though dementia was dementia. Now they know there are different types. Lewy Body, 10 years ago wasn't diagnosed until the brain autopsy. Now doctors can make a fairly educated "guess" if its that or Alzheimer.

Thank you also for the information regarding the other blog.

e.a.f. said...

The other article has some very interesting information regarding a study in Taiwan. Lets hope they have more success with that and the news gets over to North America.

If there were only a reliable genetic test for some of these dementia diseases. We could make decisions, such as whether to have children or not, to check out earlier than usual or not.

Anonymous said...

I've read somewhere that brains of people affected by Alzheimer's Disease were found to contain high levels of aluminium and mercury. 95% of diseases, probably more, is due to environmental factors that is unhealthy diet and wrong lifestyle choices.

Glen Clark said...

Fascinating! Maybe we are starting to make progress on this dreadful disease. The recent work on the positive influence of a Ketogenic diet on Alzheimer patients also looks promising.

karen said...

This is so interesting! Thanks for posting it RossK. (It's good to have hope, yes?)