Bacteria in the nose increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease

Bacteria commonly found in the nose can infiltrate the brain and may lead to Alzheimer’s disease later, a new study from Griffith University in Australia has revealed.

Associate Professor Jenny Eckberg and colleagues from the Clem Jones Centre for Neurobiology and Stem Cell Research at the Menzies Health Institute in Queensland and the Griffith Institute of Drug Discovery, in collaboration with the Queensland University of Technology, discovered that pulmonary chlamydia bacteria can invade the brain through the nerves of the nasal cavity.

While these bacteria often cause respiratory infections, they have also been found in the brain, raising the question of whether they cause damage to the central nervous system.

The research team conducted extensive research on animal models to show not only how bacteria enter the brain, but also how they lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

“Our work has previously shown that several different types of bacteria can quickly enter the central nervous system through peripheral nerves between the nasal cavity and the brain,” professor Eckberg said.

“Through this basic knowledge, we were able to track how these new bacteria, pulmonary chlamydia, can infiltrate through the cerebral blood barrier and quickly enter the brain,” he said.

The new study shows that once bacteria are present in the central nervous system, brain cells interact within days by depositing beta-amyloid peptide, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.

After several weeks, many genetic pathways known to be involved in Alzheimer’s disease are also activated.

The research also showed that when bacteria invade the olfactory nerve, peripheral neurons (glial cells) become infected, and these cells may be the way bacteria can continue within the nervous system.

“These cells are usually important defenses against bacteria, but in this case, they become infected and can help bacteria spread,” Professor Eckberg said.

“We have long suspected that bacteria, and even viruses, can lead to inflammation of nerves and contribute to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, however, bacteria alone may not be enough to cause the disease in someone. It may take a combination of genetic susceptibility as well as bacteria to lead to Alzheimer’s disease in the long run.”

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