People who have had the herpes virus at some point in their lives are twice as likely to develop dementia as people who have never been infected. A new study from Uppsala University has confirmed previous research on whether herpes may be a potential risk factor for dementia.

Researchers studied 1,000 70-year-olds in Uppsala over a 15-year period. The research, now published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, found that people who were infected with the herpes simplex virus at some point in their lives were twice as likely to develop dementia as those who did not. who were never affected. Herpes simplex virus is very common and can infect up to 80% of Swedish adults. Infection is lifelong, but symptoms may come and go at different times of life. Many people have no symptoms associated with their infection.

“What’s special about this particular study is that the participants are almost the same age, which makes the results even more reliable because age differences, which are associated with the development of dementia, cannot confound the results. ” says Erika Weston, a medical student at Uppsala University.

55 million people worldwide are affected by dementia. Advanced age and carrying the apolipoprotein ε4 risk gene are known risk factors. Previous research has investigated whether the herpes simplex virus may also be a potential risk factor for dementia. Some are now confirmed in this study. “It is exciting that the results confirm previous studies. There is a growing body of evidence from studies that, like our findings, implicate herpes simplex virus as a risk factor for dementia,” Weston continues. .

Key findings of the study include the need for further research into whether existing drugs against the herpes simplex virus can reduce the risk of dementia and the possibility of developing a new vaccine. “The findings may advance dementia research toward treating the disease using common anti-herpesvirus drugs at an early stage, or stopping the disease before it occurs,” Weston adds.