Two Common Strains Of Virus Linked To Alzheimer's Disease

Shireen Dooling/Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University 

Two strains of a virus in the brain have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in the most comprehensive study of its kind ever done. It presents new evidence for how viruses might be involved in the degenerative disease and could help scientists develop new treatments in future. The study was published in the journal Neuron

In particular, brain tissues sampled from people with AD were twice as likely to contain two common strains of the human herpes virus (HHV) than those without. Many people have HHV 6A and 7 antibodies present in their blood. It’s most commonly contracted as an infant and remains dormant in the body for many years. Researchers can’t say that the virus causes AD, but it could play a role in how the disease develops and progresses.

Researchers pulled raw RNA and DNA sequences from nearly 1,000 human brains both with and without AD to find new drug targets in the brain. Not initially looking for a virus, the group found that as much as half of the brain samples contained the herpes virus, with AD brains having more copies than those without.  

Herpes viruses HHV 6A and 7 were found in greater abundance in brain samples from AD patients compared with normal brains. These strains could play a role in the cell death and plaque buildup seen in AD patients. Shireen Dooling/Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University

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