Dementia could be worsened by infection

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A new study has suggested that the development of dementia could be worsened by infections.

A team at the University of Southampton have done studies on mice which suggest that infections could cause the brain to become inflamed which could worsen the disease.

Professor Hugh Perry led a team of researchers in their study of inflammation in mice which causes the development of a neurodegenerative disease. This disease prompts brain nerve cell damage such as is seen in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. They discovered that during the early stages of the disease the nerve cells are protected from damage by immune cells. However, if the mice suffered an infection at the same time, the inflammation in their brains worsened.

Professor Hugh Perry who is a Professor of Experimental Neuropathology has stated that the findings of the researchers mirror what is being observed in Alzheimer’s patients in the clinic. They found proof that Alzheimer’s patients suffering systemic infections, such as urine or chest infections, are at higher risk of experiencing a quick decline in thinking and memory. The symptoms they suffer are normally more severe.

He said that they are now considering whether the research findings can offer them a new method to developing treatments that could modify the communication between prime immune cells and peripheral inflammations and the immune response. If this is the normal process that drives diseases such as Alzheimer’s, then a method to control it may be a way in which the disease could be slowed down in sufferers.

Image credit: Boris Bartels

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