A new study published September 15 suggests that infections treated with specialty hospital care in early and middle life are associated with increased risks of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD), but not amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).The tenth In the open access journal MEDICINE PLOS By Jiangui Sun of the Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, and colleagues.
Experimental animal studies have suggested that infection plays a role in the development of some neurodegenerative diseases, but supporting evidence in humans is limited. In the new study, the researchers used data on people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, PD or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis from 1970-2016 in Sweden, as well as five identical controls for each condition, all identified from the Swedish national patient registry. The analysis included 291,941 AD cases, 103,919 PD cases and 10,161 ALS cases.
Hospital-treated infections 5 or more years before diagnosis were associated with a 16% increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease (95% CI: 1.15–1.18, P<0.001) and a 4% higher risk of developing Parkinson's disease (95% CI: 1.02- 1.06), P < 0.001), with similar risks for bacterial, viral and other infections and for different sites of infection. The highest risk of disease was observed in subjects with multiple infections treated in hospital before age 40, with more than twice the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (OR = 2.62, 95% CI: 2.52–2.72, P < 0.001) and more than a 40 percent increase In diabetes risk (odds ratio = 1.41, 95% confidence interval: 1.29–1.53, 3 44 p < 0.001). No association was observed for ALS, regardless of age at diagnosis.
“These findings suggest that infectious events may be a trigger or amplifier of a pre-existing disease process, leading to the clinical onset of neurodegenerative disease at a relatively young age,” the authors say, while also noting that “given the observational nature of the study, these findings It does not formally prove a causal relationship.”
Sun adds, “Hospitally treated infections, particularly in early and middle life, were associated with increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD), primarily among Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s cases diagnosed before 60 years.”
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