more risk with repeated infections


  • Alzheimer’s disease can be defined as a progressive and irreversible damage to the brain, the main symptom of which is memory loss.
  • Parkinson’s disease is linked to the degeneration of dopamine neurons and is characterized by tremors, slowness of movement and rigidity.

According to’Health Insurance, 1.2 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s disease in France. And one of the risk factors could be having been hospitalized for an infection in the years before the development of this pathology, according to a study published on September 15 in the journal PLOS Medicine.

Infection can trigger Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

Indeed, the authors estimate that being hospitalized at the beginning and/or in the middle of adult life would be a risk factor for developing certain neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

To reach this conclusion, the scientists studied the health data of people diagnosed with these three diseases between 1970 and 2016 in Sweden. In all, the study included 291,941 patients with Alzheimer’s, 103,919 with Parkinson’s and 10,161 with Charcot’s disease.

A bacterial or viral infection

Thus, they found that an infection – bacterial, viral or otherwise – treated in hospital five or more years before diagnosis was associated with a 16% increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and 4% for Parkinson’s disease. .

The highest risk was observed in people with multiple infections treated in hospital before the age of 40, with more than double the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. In contrast, no association was observed for Charcot’s disease, regardless of age at diagnosis.

Risk of early neurodegenerative disease

These results suggest that infections can trigger or amplify a pathological process that is already present, and thus lead to the onset of a neurodegenerative disease at a relatively early age.“, develop the authors. But they emphasize that”due to the observational nature of the study, these results do not formally prove a causal relationship“.

Infections treated in hospital, particularly in early and mid-life, were associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, mainly among cases diagnosed before age 60”, conclude the authors.

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