Are Microbes To Blame? New Evidence Of Fungal Infection In Dementia Patients

Posted on 20 October 2015

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

In our cushioned, anti-bacterial world we often forget the horrors some microbes once caused, and still do today. A few fringe elements have suggested a link between Alzheimer’s and pathogen before, but surprising new evidence has emerged of fungal cells in dementia patients.  We still don’t know exactly what causes dementia, or more specifically Alzheimer’s disease. There are a number of primary candidates like an immune failure and aggregate build up, but most researchers certainly wouldn’t place a fungus at the top of the list. A new paper may be challenging conventional thought on the condition.  A small sample, but curious results A team from Spain analysed the brains of 11 healthy individuals, and 11 patients riddled with Alzheimer’s who had both died at a similar age. When they investigated various areas of the brain, they discovered evidence of fungal cells in regions that are damaged in Alzheimer’s, as well as in blood vessels. Those without the disease had no fungal presence. 

“While this very small study suggests that fungal cells may be present in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s, we cannot conclude from this work that such infections cause or increase the risk of the disease”

Before we get too radical, evidence does not indicate causality; the sample was very small, and only hints at a link so far. Some people have already jumped to claim a cause, but it’s possible Alzheimer’s impairs the brain’s defenses and allows particular microbes to enter. This may make disease progression worse, but it doesn’t necessarily show a cause. Results would need to be shown in a far larger group and analysed further. Watch this space however.  Read more at Neuroscience News

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