In developed countries such as the U.S., approximately 20 percent of children are infected with HSV1 prior to the age of five. By the second and third decades of life, as much as 60 percent of the population is infected, and late-in-life infection rate reaches 85 percent.
Symptoms of primary HSV1 infection include painful blisters of the mouth, lips or eyes. After infection, HSV1 persists in nerve cells by becoming latent. Upon re-awakening, new viral particles are made in the neuron and then travel back out its pathways to re-infect the mucous membrane. Many infected people experience sporadic episodes of viral outbreaks as the well-known recurrent cold sore.
"Clinicians have seen a link between HSV1 infection and Alzheimer's disease in patients, so we wanted to investigate what might be going on in the body that would account for this," adds Dr. Shi-Bin Cheng, post-doctoral associate, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Alpert Medical School, Brown University. "What we were able to see in the lab strongly suggests a causal link between HSV1 and Alzheimer's Disease."
"It's no longer a matter of determining whether HSV1 is involved in cognitive decline, but rather how significant this involvement is," Bearer asserts. "We'll need to investigate anti-viral drugs used for acute herpes treatment to determine their ability to slow or prevent cognitive decline."
Researchers recommend people treat a cold sore as quickly as possible to minimize the amount of time the virus is actively traveling through a person's nervous system. The faster a cold sore is treated, the faster the HSV1 returns to a dormant stage.
|Contact: David Orenstein|