As if you didn’t have enough to worry about, chest and urine infections could worsen the development of dementia, according to new research from England.
The University of Southampton recently conducted a study that suggests catching infections can cause brain inflammation, which drives and worsens the disease, The Telegraph reports.
The team of researchers, led by Professor Hugh Perry, studied inflammation in mice that develop a neurodegenerative disease which causes progressive nerve cell damage in the brain similar to that seen in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, according to The Telegraph.
Early in the disease, immune cells try to defend nerve cells from damage. But if mice had an infection at the same time, the brain became more inflamed.
Hugh Perry, Professor of Experimental Neuropathology, told The Telegraph: “The findings mirror what we are observing in people with Alzheimer’s disease in the clinic. We have found evidence that people with Alzheimer’s who have systemic infections, such as chest or urine infections, are more likely to have faster decline in memory and thinking and more severe symptoms.”
“We are now looking at whether our findings could provide a new way in to developing treatments to modify this altered immune response and the communication between peripheral inflammation and primed immune cells in the brain.”
The findings were presented at the Alzheimer’s Research U.K. Annual Conference 2014 in Oxford, the largest dementia research conference in the U.K.