New research finds common Herpes can trigger buildup that resembles amyloid plaques, the proteins that cause Alzheimer’s disease.

  • The study suggests a powerful and complex connection between Alzheimer’s and one of the most common viruses. The finding was published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.
  • Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) is the common type of herpes that causes cold sores on your mouth. The World Health Organization estimates that 67% of the population under 50 carry HSV-1.
  • In 3D models of human brains, scientists found that HSV-1 can trigger buildup that resembles amyloid plaques. These are sticky clumps of proteins that tend to accumulate between the neurons of Alzheimer’s disease patients.
  • A working hypothesis is that the virus triggers an immune response in the brain, causing it to create those plaques in order to “trap” the virus.
  • David Kaplan. the study’s senior author and director of Tufts University’s Tissue Engineering and Research Center, said, “While the initial formation of amyloid-beta is beneficial for clearing infection, over time, these proteins aggregate to form plaques which themselves eventually become toxic to cells of the brain.”