Link Between Microbes and Alzheimer’s Debated

Herpes Simplex Infection May Raise Risk of Alzheimer's
Herpes Simplex Infection May Raise Risk of Alzheimer’s
Common bacterial and viral infections may be linked to Alzheimer's disease, however many physicians are voicing their disagreement.

An editorial recently published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease has garnered a large reaction this week as it argues that bacterial and viral infections, including the herpes simplex virus, may be responsible for causing Alzheimer’s disease. 

The editorial, written by 33 scientists and clinicians from 12 countries, was met by skepticism from many others in the psychiatric and neurology communities. John Hardy, PhD, a professor of neuroscience at University College London, told The Telegraph, “This is a minority view in Alzheimer research. There had been no convincing proof of infections causing Alzheimer disease. We need always to keep an open mind but this editorial does not reflect what most researchers think about Alzheimer disease.”

The authors argue that while microbes have been thought to be involved in Alzheimer’s for decades, most of the research has been dismissed as controversial. In addition, they emphasize that many who oppose the idea of a link between infection and Alzheimer’s do so based on opinion, rather than scientific evidence.

The piece further states that research has shown that mice that are infected with viruses developed deposits of amyloid. They also cite recent research from Harvard University that found that amyloid protein may also act as a defense mechanism to fight off microbes.

Additional research into the potential connection between bacteria, viruses, and Alzheimer’s, including trials of antimicrobial drugs, is needed, the authors stressed. 


Itzhaki RF, Lathe R, Balin BJ, et al. Microbes and Alzheimer’s Disease. J Alzheimers Dis. 2016; doi:10.3233/JAD-160152.

This article originally appeared on Psychiatry Advisor