A study published in Nature’s Scientific Reports suggests that certain microbes may be at fault for causing Alzheimer’s. Though more research is needed, scientists have discovered a peculiar similarity in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients: they all had several fungal species present.
It’s too small a study to draw any concrete conclusions about cause and effect or treatment, but the correlation between the disease and the fungus is too promising not to dig further.
During the study, Spanish researchers looked at the brains of 25 cadavers; 14 had Alzheimer’s and 11 did not. In addition, the 14 cadavers had an average age of 82 while the 11 cadavers had a much younger average age of 61 (and thus were less likely to have Alzheimer’s in the first place, since age is the biggest risk factor).
It was a relatively small sample size, but with strong results. All of the Alzheimer’s patients had some variety of fungal cells blooming in their neurons — and none of the non-Alzheimer’s patients did. Because several types of fungal species were present, the finding could account for the varying degrees of symptoms and rapidity of onset for patients with Alzheimer’s. It could also account for the slow progression of the disease and inflammation, which is an immune response to infectious agents such as fungi.
What It Could Mean
As of right now, the possibility that microbial fungi cause Alzheimer’s is just speculation. In fact, the researchers themselves even pointed out that these fungal infection may be the result of Alzheimer’s, rather than the cause.
But on the flip side, this discovery could result in promising new ways to treat the disease, as anti-fungal treatments may be able to help. The results also may indicate that several factors can lead to Alzheimer’s. According to the research team, there have already been several papers written about a correlation (not necessarily causation) between a multitude of infectious organisms and Alzheimer’s disease.
The study was small, but the results were solid: Alzheimer’s brains all had fungi present. This key difference between the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and those without could lead to further research, further questions, and hopefully, eventually, more concrete answers.Whizzco