Memory loss 'sped up' by infection8th September 2009
Scientists at Southampton University have said that memory loss in Alzheimer's patients could be doubled by infections.
In a study of 222 patients, published in Neurology, who had the disease they found that chest, intestinal and urinary tract infections increased cognitive decline.
The researchers studied the patients - who had "mild, moderate and severe forms" of Alzheimer's - over a six month period. They saw that 110 of the 222 patients suffered 150 infections, including chest, urinary tract, stomach and intestinal infections.
This caused proteins known as tumour necrosis factor (TNF) to increase in the blood, which are known as acute systemic inflammation events (SIEs).
The researchers found that a patient with one (or a number of) SIEs had twice the rate of memory loss than a patient who had not suffered a SIE.
They also found that patients with high existing levels of TNF who then had SIEs had tenfold the rate of cognitive decline.
The team's head Professor Clive Holmes, said: "The worse the infection the worse the effect on the memory, but this is only an association at the moment."
"If further work proves that TNF is causing more brain inflammation it may be possible to use drugs that block TNF to help dementia sufferers."
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Title: Memory loss 'sped up' by infection
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 12584
Date Added: 8th Sep 2009