Multiple infections might increase glial activation and susceptibility to Alzheimer’s disease, according to recent work. Bu and colleagues studied the infectious burden—a composite serological measure of exposure to common pathogens—in 128 patients with Alzheimer’s and 135 healthy controls. The authors found that having serum antibodies to multiple pathogens was associated with poor cognitive function.
Serum beta-amyloid protein (Aβ) levels and inflammatory cytokines (i.e. interferon-γ, tumor necrosis factor α, interleukin-1β and interleukin-6) in individuals exposed to four to five infectious pathogens were significantly higher than in those subjects exposed to zero to two or three pathogens.
Infectious burden consisting of CMV, HSV-1, B. burgdorferi, C. pneumoniae and H. pylori was associated with Alzheimer’s disease. This study supports the role of inflammation in the aetiopathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease. Previous studies have also suggested that infectious burden contributes to cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Bu XL, Yao XQ, JIAO SS, Zeng F, Liu YH, Xiang Y, Liang CR, Wang QH, Wang X, Cao HY, Yi X, Deng B, Liu CH, Xu J, Zhang LL, Gao CY, Xu ZQ, Zhang M, Wang L, Tan XL, Xu X, Zhou HD, Wang YJ: A Study on the association between infectious burden and Alzheimer’s disease. Eur. J. Neurol. [Epub ahead of print, June 9, 2014. doi: 10.1111/ene.12477]


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