Traces of fungus have been discovered in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease, a study published today (Thursday 15 October 2015) in Nature’s journal of Scientific Reports has found.
Researchers compared the brains of people with and without Alzheimer’s disease. They found cells and other material from “several fungal species” in the brain tissue and blood vessels of all 11 deceased Alzheimer’s patients analysed, but not in ten Alzheimer’s-free controls. There was no conclusive evidence to establish whether the fungus had caused Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr Clare Walton, Research Manager at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Traces of fungus in the brains of these few people with Alzheimer’s is not enough to conclude that it plays a role in the development of the disease. Although there has been research in the past to explore whether infectious diseases can raise the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, the results have so far been inconclusive. We do know that Alzheimer’s disease weakens the internal barrier that protects the brain and this may make it more open to infections.
“There is still much research to be done in order to truly understand the causes of dementia. As it is a progressive, long-term condition, it can take many years before symptoms appear and so it is hard to determine the initial cause based on samples taken after death.”