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Study Links viral infections to Alzheimer, Parkinson’s - with many caveats
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Flu & many other viruses associated with 6 brain diseases, but aren’t proven culprits
Science Jan 2023
Virus exposure and neurodegenerative disease risk across national biobanks January 19, 2023
• Identified 45 pairs of viral exposures associated with increased risk of NDDs
• Replicated 22 of the viral exposures/NDD pairings
• Replicated the previously reported Epstein-Barr and multiple sclerosis association
• Follow-up shows significantly elevated risk of NDD years after viral exposure
With recent findings connecting the Epstein-Barr virus to an increased risk of multiple sclerosis and growing concerns regarding the neurological impact of the coronavirus pandemic, we examined potential links between viral exposures and neurodegenerative disease risk. Using time series data from FinnGen for discovery and cross-sectional data from the UK Biobank for replication, we identified 45 viral exposures significantly associated with increased risk of neurodegenerative disease and replicated 22 of these associations. The largest effect association was between viral encephalitis exposure and Alzheimer’s disease. Influenza with pneumonia was significantly associated with five of the six neurodegenerative diseases studied. We also replicated the Epstein-Barr/multiple sclerosis association. Some of these exposures were associated with an increased risk of neurodegeneration up to 15 years after infection. As vaccines are currently available for some of the associated viruses, vaccination may be a way to reduce some risk of neurodegenerative disease.


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