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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 Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07, 2008 @06:01PM (#26024363)

    I just lost my train of thought.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07, 2008 @07:05PM (#26024939)

      Nastiest Alzheimer's joke ever:

      Guy brings his wife to the doctor. Doctor tells him "We screwed up the lab results. She either has AIDS or Alzheimers."

      Guy says "great, what should I do?"

      Doctor says "Drop her off about a mile away from home. If she finds her way home, don't fuck her!"

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        There's something about jokes that require improbable/impossible setups that just makes them not worth the effort...
      • OK, so there was this guy with Alzheimer's, right? And one time some people came to his room. He was very tired, and so he mostly just lay in his bed. When he thought they might be saying something that needed a response he'd say "sure". Mostly, however, he kept quiet.

        After a bit, someone else came in and asked him to eat some crushed-up pills and drink some juice. When presented with the straw for the juice, instead of drinking, he blew some bubbles through the straw - and everybody there got a good l

  • Strange... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Der Huhn Teufel (688813) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @06:02PM (#26024365)
    Man my mouth hurts but I don't remember why.
  • What about heredity? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07, 2008 @06:09PM (#26024427)

    Alzheimers runs in families, which is particularly worrisome for me since I have it on both sides of my family. If it is caused by a virus, then why is it passed down in genes? Are some people more sucseptible to this virus, thus there is a gene for vulnerabilty to this virus, instead of a gene for Alzheimers??

    • by compro01 (777531) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @06:13PM (#26024461)

      Or "virus only does this to people with gene X".

    • 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 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: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Muad'Dave (255648)

          Don't forget Herpes Simplex 10, which is what Eddie Murphy's character 'Ramon' had in Beverly Hills Cop: [from imdb.com]:

          "Tell Victor that Ramon - -the fella he met about a week ago? - -tell him that Ramon went to the clinic today, and I found out that I have, um, herpes simplex 10, and I think Victor should go check himself out with his physician to make sure everything is fine before things start falling off on the man."

      • by Burnhard (1031106)
        That's true. Some of us may be carriers but never show symptoms (I've never had a cold-sore but am pretty certain I must have been exposed by now!). None of my grandparents have had Alzheimer's, but one of them currently has Vascular Dementia, which is also common but unrelated.
      • 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 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 spectecjr (31235) on Monday December 08, 2008 @02:29AM (#26029041) Homepage

          Interestingly, if you get HSV-1 before you get HSV-2, it gives you a degree of immunity to HSV-2. :)

    • 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]

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It's the great thing about statistics, if 90% of adults have it then a 100% of all people will die with it and some prematurely. Unless there's a factor that stands out the numbers can be spun to back most agendas. Unless they find that Alzheimer's is rare to nonextistent in people that don't have the herpes virus then it's hard to confirm anything when 90% of the population has it. Even then given the fact everyone for the most part are exposed to it an immunity to herpes might also protect you from other

      • Is Epstein-Barr a herpes virus? Because that is the only virus I have ever heard has had any link identified to Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
      • I read your posts and found them to be very interesting and informative. I'd like to see more, when you have the time to write them. Thanks.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by repapetilto (1219852)

        From your part 3: Apparently HPV does its magic by interfering with the expression of gene P52, a factor in cell death (apoptosis)... Most likely you meant p53, just sayin.

        • also, regarding the following:

          "2. With the sheer number of cells in the human body, late-stage diseases such as cancer should always occur in childhood
          Your body contains billions upon billions of cells, all replicating, all exposed to free radicals. Except during breastfeeding, your food supply doesn't change much through adulthood. Antioxidants, vitamins, etc, which protect cells should always affect you the same way - you shouldn't need more protection as you get older. It's a limited supply, that needs t

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by spectecjr (31235)

            ---I don't follow this logic at all. Even if the rate of cancer-inducing mutations/epigenetic changes is constant the incidence of cancer should rise exponentially in relation to age since more and more of those mutations will have occurred as time passed.

            Mainly that the rate of cell division actually drops significantly as you get older. As my GP says, fetal cells replicate so fast that they're pretty much just happy bouncing baby tumors. So if mutations are the cause of it all, surely those mutations shou

            • by repapetilto (1219852) on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:56AM (#26028777)

              But cells with "good" DNA can divide all they want without causing cancer, since they will only do so when the proper signal to do so is present. As you age more and more of your cells will have errors in their DNA (for the reason stated above) that cause them to divide irrespective of whatever external or internal signals to divide or kill themselves. These mutations aren't necessarily the result of faulty DNA replication but can be caused by environmental factors damaging the DNA in a way that isn't repaired correctly which, if it happens at the wrong spot(s), results in altered expression of genes involved in regulating cell proliferation or apoptosis, thus allowing that cell to become cancerous. So what I'm saying is that replication errors aren't the only cause of changes to DNA sequence (your viral theory is an example of this...).

              Also the logic behind thinking that more innately proliferative cells are more prone to cancer is also two-fold in that the more times a cell divides the more replications the original DNA will have undergone thus allowing more chances for error (what you seemed to be thinking about) but also DNA packed tightly in heterochromatin is less available to react with whatever chemicals are around to alter it. S-phase DNA is necessarily more exposed to whatever random chemicals are floating around in the nucleus and, throughout the cell cycle, highly-proliferative cells will have those cell division/apoptosis regulating genes more exposed so that they can be easily accessed for transcription and since those genes are normally more active fewer mutations may be unnecessary before you end up with a cell that just grows out of control. Those obviously aren't the only factors though, since, as you say, how often a cell ends up with cancerous progeny isn't necessarily related to how often it normally divides. Maybe it has something to do with accessibility of those tissues to carcinogens or that the ability of the body to detect the faulty cell and/or mount an effective immune response differs by tissue...I don't know, maybe someone has studied it.

              Anyway I guess what I'm saying is it doesn't make sense to conclude that cells that divide more become cancerous more often and therefore we should see the same incidence of cancer regardless of age, which is not what happens. Further I don't see how that conclusion supports a viral theory of cancer over chemically induced cancer (oxidative stress, carcinogens). I don't think theres anyone in the know who claims that the primary cause of cancers is errors during DNA replication. I'm obviously ready to entertain the idea that most tumors are the result of viral infection (or else I wouldn't have read what you had to say) but that point you were making still doesn't seem logical to me.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by spectecjr (31235)

          From your part 3: Apparently HPV does its magic by interfering with the expression of gene P52, a factor in cell death (apoptosis)... Most likely you meant p53, just sayin.

          I understand where you're coming from, but p52 is also an apoptosis mediator.

      • by Anachragnome (1008495) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @09:24PM (#26026151)

        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".

        Then I made another realization. Many of these diseases seem to be more prevalent then they have been in the past, that is to say that a higher percentage of the population are afflicted with these conditions then they used to be. Could the increase in these diseases correspond to the increases in vaccinating the public?

        Holy smokes. Are we inadvertently introducing a weakness to all these other diseases?

        • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @09:45PM (#26026379) Journal

          Many of the diseases that are more common now affect relatively old people. If you have a disease that rarely kills anyone under the age of 40, you will have seen a marked increase in it over the last hundred years or so.

          Several forms of cancer are good examples of this. They are a lot more prevalent now than a century ago because few people lived long enough to develop them to a fatal degree. When comparing infection statistics, also compare age ranges. If diseases are more common in the 30-40 age range than they were, then you might want to worry.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Ironica (124657)

          Holy smokes. Are we inadvertently introducing a weakness to all these other diseases?

          That's one of the main considerations of families who opt to selectively vaccinate or not vaccinate at all. While many (but not ALL) of the vaccinations on the CDC schedule have proven effectiveness in combating disease, there is *no* clinical evidence that the existing schedule (starting at two months of age with four shots, which carry a combined punch of 13 different disease strains) has any benefit over a schedule which starts later or goes slower.

          To run with varicella as one example, scientists have a

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by T.E.D. (34228)

          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.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Ironica (124657)

        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.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by spectecjr (31235)

          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

    • by osu-neko (2604) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @08:10PM (#26025427)
      Rule of thumb: When someone is trying to explain the "cause" of something, and they have mentioned less than a dozen different things, they're oversimplifying.
    • HSV I and HSV II (cold sores and herpes) are actually passed extremely easily by skin-to-skin contact. Condoms are not actually that great a way to protect against them. So they are very easy (well, cold sores anyway) to get from someone in your family even if you don't have sex with any of them.

      It's estimated that between 60% and 80% of the US population has HSV I.

      There is apparently also an additional genetic factor.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by lbbros (900904)
      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 ar
    • Maybe .. herpes is passed down?
  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @06:10PM (#26024437)

    Let's wait until the anti-vaccine douchebags hear about THIS. Doesn't this vaccine turn your prepubescent daughter into a whore?

    • Or what about those who think immunizing their kids will bring about Autism?

  • by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday December 07, 2008 @06:13PM (#26024473) Homepage Journal

    in a few weeks, poor innocent little children will get visits from aunt bertha and grandma marge, and the first thing the strange smelly relatives will do is find the innocent children, exclaim "my how you've grown!" or "aren't you the cutest thing, i could eat you up!" and, approaching the children, who will now be rapt in horror, they will proceed to plant wet sloppy kisses, over the protestations and gyrations of the children sturggling to break free of the bear arm grip

    and, the kids are right to object. they are trying to avoid herpes and alzheimers

    kisses from old relatives is a brain mummifying disease

    • Those kisses will also cause caries aka cavities [wikipedia.org]

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by MrMista_B (891430)

      Not to mention fainty pedophilic. Which kids are good at picking up on.

    • by TechwoIf (1004763)
      The child can not say no to grandma violating the most sensitive spot of there body. So that means they can not say no to there uncle that what to touch a less sensitive area. For the clueless, parents have been training children they can not say "no" to the uncle that want to rub in between there legs. Now I can educate the parents without mortifying them by using this virus as a excuse. This is a good thing overall.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TerranFury (726743)

        There's an issue with this of course. By the time you get older -- say, into your early 20s -- about 50% of the people your own age have oral HSV-1. What do you do, live in fear of contracting the virus? Don't kiss your date good night? Only consider romantic involvement with the 50% of the population that doesn't have HSV-1?

        The problem is that the only way to avoid getting HSV-1 that isn't completely absurd is to just be lucky.

      • nambla troll?

  • I had a 'fever blister' about every month when I was a kid. I had better follow up on this. Although we never had any Alzheimers in the family my oldest cousin and her ex-husband both have it. There was never a case in his family either.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The team discovered that the HSV1 DNA is located very specifically in amyloid plaques: 90% of plaques in Alzheimer's disease sufferers' brains contain HSV1 DNA, and most of the viral DNA is located within amyloid plaques. The team had previously shown that HSV1 infection of nerve-type cells induces deposition of the main component, beta amyloid, of amyloid plaques.

    100% might have been a clincher. If anti-virals help, I might have rto eat my worlds.

    Most people have HSV1. HSV1 DNA locates in the amyloids. So

  • I wonder... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dexmachina (1341273) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @06:24PM (#26024579)
    With these findings in mind, it would be interesting if someone were to do a study and see if there's a correlation between Alzheimer's incidence and people who have a tendency to get cold sores. Since only 20-40% (according to TFA) of HSV-1 carriers develop cold sores, I wonder if being susceptible to outbreaks indicates a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's later in life. You'd have to correct for all sorts of environment factors, but still, as someone who gets cold sores something awful that would be a very interesting study. Anyways, great article, it's good news if something comes out of this. HSV in its different varieties is already known to be responsible for quite a few diseases so only good can come out of more research into it.
    • With these findings in mind, it would be interesting if someone were to do a study and see if there's a correlation between Alzheimer's incidence and people who have a tendency to get cold sores.

      I hope not. The only time I don't have cold sores is if I restrict my intake of acidic foods (oranges, tomatoes, etc)

  • by blind biker (1066130) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @06:41PM (#26024739) Journal

    Can one be tested for the herpes simplex virus? I never had an outbreak, but one winter when I was cyclilng in -17C (stupid, yeah, gimme a break, I love cycling) I got a cold sore on the tip of my nose. So now I would like to be able to dismiss the idea I have herpes simplex. But if I have it, I'd like to start a therapy ASAP - I don't want to get Alzheimer's.

    • Very unlikely it was a cold sore if it was on your nose. Probably just a bad pimple. There are blood tests available but some give a lot of false positives. Go to an STD clinic if you want to be tested and ask for the IGG test. It is the better one.
    • by MarkRose (820682)

      Yes, there is a blood test for it. Chances are it will show positive. Most adults have it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by maxume (22995)

      Any chance it was simply frostbite?

      • by blind biker (1066130) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @08:22PM (#26025497) Journal

        Yes, yes it was a frostbite! Is that not the same as a cold sore, then?

        See, this happens because English is not my native tongue. Never lived in an English-speaking country, either. While I do have a reasonably good command of it, there are rare instances where English fools me, just like now.

        Note to self: cold sore != frostbite

        • Note to self: cold sore != frostbite

          Indeed!

          The phrase "cold sore" is a misnomer that dates back to when people used to think that the sores had something to do with "getting a cold." And people keep using this phrase, I think, because it is a euphemism that lets them pretend that it's somehow "different" from that "other herpes."

          Just do a Google image search for "cold sore." They tend to appear on the lips, outside the mouth. What you are describing sounds completely unrelated.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by dexmachina (1341273)
          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 tempera
  • Herpes Simplex... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by actionbastard (1206160) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @06:42PM (#26024751)
    Might not be the only culprit here. Chicken pox (V. zoster) and Shingles (H. zoster) are related to HSV1 and HSV2. Many people may have had either -or both- of these infections as children or adults and carry the virus in a dormant state in their body. The research does not address these other -possible very prevalent- vectors in AD.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      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.

  • this thread really brought out the trolls...

  • by pragma_x (644215) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @07:35PM (#26025171) Journal

    This is excellent news for most slashdotters since the herpes 'cold-sore' virus is typically transmitted by kissing.

  • Daaammmnnn (Score:2, Funny)

    by Larryish (1215510)
    No wonder the hooker never remembers me.
  • So eould an AntiViral, like Acyclovir help prevent Alzheimers if taken early enough (say in your 40's)

  • This puts "This Is Spinal Tap" in a whole different light.

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