(Science 2.0) Increased life expectancy in advanced societies has led to an increased number of old people and a corresponding increase in dementia. In particular, Alzheimer’s disease is a major problem and now lies in 6th place in the mortality table.
However, some intriguing recent findings suggest that infection may play a role in several supposedly non-infectious diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and perhaps some other neurodegenerative diseases. More is known about Alzheimer’s disease, so we will focus on this here.
Two totally opposite effects of infection have been found. Firstly, there is the alarming possibility that neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s Huntington's, and Parkinson's diseases, may be transmissible under some circumstances. Secondly, there is evidence that Alzheimer’s disease may be the result of a poorly controlled response to infection of the nervous system…
Perhaps it is not too far fetched to see the buildup of amyloid-beta plaques in Alzheimer's disease as “used ammunition” left over from anti-bacterial warfare. As you age, the blood-brain barrier gets more leaky. More bacteria get through and more amyloid-beta is made. Eventually, enough amyloid-beta accumulates to damage your own cells.[Click the title, above, to post a comment.]