This review examines the growing experimental data pointing to chronic bacterial and viral infections as possible risk factors for neurodegenerative diseases. These include Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease among others. Viral and microbial agents have been observed to produce molecular changes associated with neurodegeneration, such as the production and deposit of misfolded protein aggregates, oxidative stress, deficient autophagic processes, synaptopathies and neuronal death. These are thought to act in synergy with other risk factors, such as aging, concomitant metabolic diseases and are influenced by the patient’s genetic background. The authors of this review focus on the contribution to neurodegeneration by herpes simplex type-1, human immunodeficiency and influenza viruses, and by Chlamydia pneumoniae.

De Chiara G, Marcocci ME, Sgarbanti R, Civitelli L, Ripoli C, Piacentini R, Garaci E, Grassi C, Palamara AT: Infectious Agents and Neurodegeneration.  Molecular Neurobiology [Epub ahead of print August 17, 2012, DOI: 10.1007/s12035-012-8320-7].

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