Cold Sore Virus Linked to Alzheimer’s

Two new studies show that a common virus that affects the majority of the population may double the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Learn more about the connection and what it may mean for future drug treatment options. 

Cold Sore Virus Linked to Alzheimer's

Herpes Simplex Virus May Double Your Risk

Two recent studies show a strong connection between a common virus called herpes simplex virus and Alzheimer’s. Herpes simplex virus is the virus that causes the common cold sore and affects the majority of the population.

In a study recently published in the journal “Alzheimer’s & Dementia,” researchers say that they found that carriers of the herpes simplex virus doubled a person’s risk for developing Alzheimer’s.

Researchers from Umeå University in Sweden took plasma samples from 360 people who had Alzheimer’s and another 360 samples from people who did not have the disease. Those who were carriers of the virus were twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s. A second study completed in July by the same researchers followed over 3,000 people for over 11 years. That study also found that carriers of the herpes virus were twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

A Promising New Approach for Drug Treatments

While the studies only provide proof of a correlation and not causation, more research needs to be done to establish why the connection exists.

However, researchers believe that because the virus never leaves a person and can reactivate intermittently it can affect seniors as their immune systems weaken. The virus can then spread to the brain which, researchers hypothesize, may then contribute to Alzheimer’s. 

Researchers hope that their studies will have an impact on new drug treatments for the disease. Author of both studies and an associate professor of geriatric medicine at Umeå University in Sweden, Hugo Lövheim, said:

“Something [that] makes this hypothesis very interesting is that now herpes infection can, in principle, be treated with antiviral agents. Therefore within a few years we hope to be able to start studies in which we will also try treating patients to prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Does this research surprise you? Do you have concerns about the connection between this virus and Alzheimer’s? Share your questions with us in the comments below.

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Please leave your thoughts and comments

  • Shari

    Does this only apply to Alzheimer’s or Lewy BodyDementia too?

  • Me

    Hmmm….since most people are exposed to this virus, it seems to me a convenient conclusion for drug companies that already have a patent on the virus suppressing drug to link it to Alzheimer’s so they will expand their flow of patients connected to their mainline of lifelong drugs…

  • JENNIFER

    I am 43yrs. old and am a professional memory care caregiver. Since I can remember even as a child I have gotten cold sores. It used to be very often but in the past few years my outbreaks have lessened(about 2-3 times a year) Does this mean I am even more likely to get Alzheimer’s in the future or ???
    Thank you, signed “CONFUSED”

  • Audrey

    Yikes! I hope this isn’t true! That’s scary!:(

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