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Cold Sore Virus May Be Alzheimer's Smoking Gun 285

Posted by kdawson
from the you-must-remember-this dept.
Science Daily is reporting that the virus behind cold sores has been found to be a major cause of the insoluble protein plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer's disease sufferers. Researchers believe the herpes simplex virus is a significant factor in developing the debilitating disease and could be treated by antiviral agents such as acyclovir, which is already used to treat cold sores and other diseases caused by the herpes virus. Another future possibility is vaccination against the virus to prevent the development of Alzheimer's in the first place. The research was just published in the Journal of Pathology (abstract).
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Cold Sore Virus May Be Alzheimer's Smoking Gun

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  • by BeanThere (28381) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @06:14PM (#26024475)

    From the article: "The team had discovered much earlier that the virus is present in brains of many elderly people and that in those people with a specific genetic factor, there is a high risk of developing Alzheimer's disease."

  • by Courageous (228506) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @06:20PM (#26024545)

    You're an AC so prolly won't see this response, but Herpes infection is endemic. I believe that 90% of all adults are infected with the virus that causes Herpes. I know this is confusing, because of the confusion with genital herpes, which can be caused by at least two variants of the Herpes virus.

    C//

  • by spectecjr (31235) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @06:39PM (#26024721) Homepage

    Yes. There's a gene called APOE-1. If you have a specific form of that gene, you're more susceptible.

    Also, herpes immunity varies from person to person. Babies without any of the immunity typically die shortly after birth. Your immunity varies depending on a specific combination of genes.

    I've been researching this stuff for a while... Inferring results from about 500 different medical papers I've read, Herpes viruses are responsible for:

    Alzheimer's Disease
    Type-II Diabetes
    High Cholesterol, including high HDL and high triglyceride levels
    Heart disease, including atherosclerosis (aka arteriosclerosis)
    Cancer of the gallbladder (cholangiocarcinoma)
    Colon cancer
    Crohn's disease
    Multiple sclerosis
    Rheumatoid arthritis
    Arthritis
    Osteoporosis
    Multiple myeloma
    Glioblastoma multiforme
    Bipolar disorder
    Schizophrenia
    Hodkin's Disease
    Lymphoma
    Breast Cancer
    Kaposi's Sarcoma

    http://www.accidentalscientist.com/2008/01/public-enemy-1-herpes-viruses-as.html [accidentalscientist.com]

  • by similar_name (1164087) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @06:44PM (#26024765)

    I believe that 90% of all adults are infected with the virus that causes Herpes.

    Yep, Herpes comes in at least 8 varieties in humans and over 80 in the animal kingdom. So if you've ever had chicken pox...

    "Chickenpox is a highly communicable disease caused by the varicella virus, a member of the herpes virus family"

    New York State Department of Health [state.ny.us]

  • Re:Herpes Simplex... (Score:3, Informative)

    by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @06:59PM (#26024873) Homepage Journal

    Exactly. There are a wide variety of diseases that are forms of or are related to HSV1/2. Chicken pox and shingles are just two. Additionally, there is viral meningitis, a form of encephalitis, occular herpes, and more.

    Finally, this news isn't that exactly that new. They originally discovered a link between Alzheimer's and HSV-1 in the late 70s. This is just the latest study that confirms this.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07, 2008 @07:32PM (#26025149)

    If you live together as a family even for the most briefest of time, wouldn't you think the virus could be transmitted easily?

    Also if your mom has it, there are lots of fluids passed between one another during the pregnancy and childbirth. And if your father had it, he would have infected your mother when he impregnated her.

    A lot of fluids? No. There is a reason that only 25% of children born from HIV infected mothers also are infected by HIV. In fact, the probability of being infected with HIV is higher from breastfeeding than it is from gestation and birth. Study human biology buddy. The placenta develops for a reason.

  • by Khaed (544779) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @07:57PM (#26025329)

    Yes, it is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epstein-Barr [wikipedia.org]

    "The Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), also called Human herpesvirus 4 (HHV-4), is a virus of the herpes family (which includes Herpes simplex virus), and is one of the most common viruses in humans."

    The herpes family of viruses is certainly one of the most "successful." It's everywhere.

  • HSV and VZV take up residency within the nervous system, where they remain indefinitely. Even if your proposed solution does kill an active HSV infection, it will not root out the latent virus, thus the cold sores will continue to periodically recur.

  • by lbbros (900904) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @08:27PM (#26025555) Homepage
    Alzheimer's Disease is what is being called a "multi-factorial" disease. That means that there isn't a single source of the disease, but rather a combination of them. In this case, the presence of the herpes virus is one of such factors. I've read and researched a bit myself on the subject during the course of my scientific career: there are loads of papers that try to link particular genetic patterns to susceptibility to AD, but aside for APOE (mentioned by another poster) and some familial forms (which are a minorty among AD cases), the findings are often hard to reproduce, or even inconsistent among them. BTW, regarding the herpes virus: you don't quite eradicate it when you get a cold sore and treat it, because in fact it usually lies in a dormant state after the acute phase (IIRC, I haven't touched virology in a long time and I may be totally incorrect) and factors such as stress or other events can "awaken" it again, causing the recurrences in cold sores and other herpes-related infections.
  • by TerranFury (726743) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @08:36PM (#26025641)

    I believe that 90% of all adults are infected with the virus that causes Herpes. I know this is confusing, because of the confusion with genital herpes,

    There are two types of herpes simplex virus: HSV-1 and HSV-2. Historically, HSV-1 has been called "oral herpes" and HSV-2 "genital herpes." But in fact, either can infect either location -- or other locations -- and both cause similar symptoms. (In industrialized nations, particularly among college students, most new cases of genital herpes are actually HSV-1. Ah, fellatio!)

    Statistics: 50% of adults are seropositive for HSV-1. 25% of adults are seropositive for HSV-2.

  • by endothermicnuke (1307123) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @08:45PM (#26025755)

    You're mixing up 'yer virii. HSV vice HPV.

    Oh for fuck's sake, it's not virii. It's viruses. Please stop using this non-existent term.

  • by dexmachina (1341273) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @09:03PM (#26025949)
    I can see where you would be confused. Actually, cold sore is a much more logical name for frostbite anyways. But yes, indeed cold sore != frostbite. The former's a viral infection and the latter is just damage to the skin caused by the cold. I think cold sores are so named because cold weather (and by extension, having a cold) can cause an outbreak because of the stress it puts on your system. Personally, I find I'm most susceptible to getting a cold sore if there's been a recent big fluctuation in temperature.
  • Herpes Neurotropism (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07, 2008 @09:44PM (#26026371)

    To me this makes some sense (I'll pull up short of being the "that's not surprising" guy). Herpes is the most common cause of viral encephalitis in the United States, and many different members of the herpesvirus family establish latency in neurons. More to the point, and the reason HSV I (and II to a much lesser extent) is a common cause of encephalitis is the fact that it shows predilection for the trigeminal ganglion behind the eye, in close proximity to the cerebrum.

  • by iago12345 (800025) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @10:30PM (#26026757)
    Its true currently an average of 50% of adults are seropositive for HSV1, but as an individual statistics state 80% - 85% of people over the age of 60 are infected, so odds are slim you will avoid being inflicted with the HSV1 virus (cold sores)before you die. However with the advances being made in understanding the virus' ability to reactivate and stay hidden, drugs will most likely be developed within the next ten years that destroy the virus' ability to replicate making it almost entirely non-contagious, and within twenty years we'll have a technique/drug that will be capable of killing it where it hides in the trigeminal ganglion located in the brain, which extends to the face/lips. However newer research is indicating that not just HSV1, but a large host of viruses previously thought to be harmless (such as other members of the HSV family Cytomegalovirus & Epstein-Barr virus) eventually cause build up of plaque in the brain causing cognitive decline, particularly combined with the ApoE4 gene variation, which I believe this study linking HSV1 & Alzheimer's is referring to. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/541533 [medscape.com] http://genome.wellcome.ac.uk/doc_WTX038956.html [wellcome.ac.uk]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07, 2008 @10:30PM (#26026761)
    Don't be a dick. That is PC semantic bullshit. Would you say that "whooping cough" is contagious? Yes you would. Most people would. But, the causative agent of whooping cough is the bacterium Bordetella pertussis; "whooping cough" is a description of symptoms of a pertussis infection, like "acute immune deficiency" is a description of symptoms associated with an HIV infection. Playing with semantics doesn't make AIDS any less contagious.
  • BHT Supresses Herpes (Score:2, Informative)

    by ottotto (214949) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:24PM (#26027231)

    Herpes is part of a family of lipid coated viruses. All such viruses are inhibited (but not cured) by consuming BHT. BHT in capsule and bulk for is available from VRP. For more on this visit their site, vrp.com/ [slashdot.org]. It works for me perfectly. More on this can be found here:http://www.advance-health.com/bht.html [advance-health.com].

  • by Ironica (124657) <pixel@NoSPAm.boondock.org> on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:59PM (#26027669) Journal

    Wow, that's a really interesting list. Partly because many of those items are *also* linked to autoimmune responses to gluten in the human diet. In particular, diabetes (Types I and II), Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, Rheumatoid arthritis, and colon cancer have been clinically confirmed to my knowledge; I also know of people with MS and Crohn's who find that going gluten-free improved their condition a great deal.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:28AM (#26027953)

    If you know any folks who have Shingles, it is also caused by the same Herpes virus that causes chicken pox.

  • by spectecjr (31235) on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:08AM (#26028339) Homepage

    Wow, that's a really interesting list. Partly because many of those items are *also* linked to autoimmune responses to gluten in the human diet. In particular, diabetes (Types I and II), Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, Rheumatoid arthritis, and colon cancer have been clinically confirmed to my knowledge; I also know of people with MS and Crohn's who find that going gluten-free improved their condition a great deal.

    I've got an idea about that... You might want to check and see if there's also any connection to peanut allergies and those conditions, reason being that both wheat germ and peanuts have a high arginine-lysine ratio, which encourages herpes replication.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 08, 2008 @02:32AM (#26029057)

    This comment betrays a profound lack of understanding of chemical nomenclature.

    The fact that BHT has toluene in its name does not make it substantially similar to toluene.

    It's possible to come up with naming for brain compounds like dopamine and serotonin which use toluene as a root. For example: 3,4-dihydroxy-a-aminomethyltoluene is one (obtuse) way to describe dopamine. However, the physiological effects of toluene and dopamine are completely different.

    That said, BHT as a treatment for cold sores sounds like a really stupid idea. Of course, that's par for the course with spam.

  • by spectecjr (31235) on Monday December 08, 2008 @02:42AM (#26029141) Homepage

    You should read the other papers by Wozniak and Itzhaki. They include, for example, studies on how the HSV1 virus in-situ in nerve cells affects the expression of tau and beta-amyloid proteins, causing them to generate the exact types of plaques seen in AD patients.

    They've done a pretty damn compelling job. If they didn't have to dot their i's and cross their t's to the nth degree, I'd have called this one and said it's in the bag years ago.

  • Re:timely article (Score:3, Informative)

    by kripkenstein (913150) on Monday December 08, 2008 @04:45AM (#26029917) Homepage
    Ah, it's even worse. A person might have no history of symptoms but still be infected, and have asymptomatic shedding. So it makes little sense to inquire about a history, at least as far as asymptomatic shedding is considered (you might inquire for other reasons).

    That said, it still makes sense to avoid sharing food, kissing, etc. people who have active symptoms. The amount of virus particles is much, much higher than asymptomatic shedding in such a case.

    But otherwise, there isn't much you can do.
  • by T.E.D. (34228) on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:36PM (#26035503)

    I was just relating this post to my wife when she said "I wonder, if all that is true, if it is possible the vaccinations we all receive for chickenpox might actually be the root cause of all these diseases".

    Errr...no. The chickenpox vaccine has only been licensed in the US since 1995. Almost no Aldsheimers sufferers have had that vaccine. If there were any effct from it, you wouldn't see it in most diseases associated with aging for a few decades yet.

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