Can you remember those awful family gatherings you were forced to endure as a child. They typically began with every elderly relative slobbering all over you.
Not only was the experience traumatic, many times they passed on more than a little saliva, they passed on herpes virus. Herpes virus simplex I, to be precise, leaving you with a lifelong affliction, which typically manifests when you’re stressed i.e. cold sores.
NOTE : Bedroom exercises pass on the other herpes virus – herpes virus simplex II, this guy causes sores in the nether regions. Also not too pleasant, but at least this infection is not quite as public as carbuncles protruding from your lips.
It is estimated that 20 % of children under the age of 5 years have picked up this lifelong companion.
Of course, as you get older, you get to do quite a bit more kissing, which is self instigated, so as the years tick by, the odds of a herpes encounter increase. 85 % of people are infected by the time they die.
Herpes is for life
The herpes virus family never leaves. The virus typically causes a big ruckus when it first invades. The immune system is able to get things under control, but never fully destroys the invader. The virus escapes the immune system by hiding in your nerve cells.
If your immune system takes a dive, which typically happens when you’re stressed, the virus pops out causing a new eruption.
Virus is not just hiding, it’s migrating towards the brain
The invasion turns out to be more sinister – the virus is not just sitting in the sensory nerve waiting for another opportunity to cause an unsightly painful sore, it is actually trying to slip into the brain.
Since all nerves ultimately lead to the brain, a steady creeping allows the virus to slowly inch its way into the impenetrable fortress.
Spying on the invasion
New technology has allowed scientists to follow this invasion process. Using florescent dyes the formation of new virus particles has been carefully documented.
The herpes virus is piggy backing on amyloid precursor protein, in the process, it changes the architecture of the nerve cells and causes the amyloid precursor protein to be disrupted.
Amyloid protein is disrupted in Alzheimer’s
The protein that the virus is disrupting, is the very same protein that is disrupted in people who have Alzheimer’s disease. Its job is to move things around cells.
Accumulated amyloid protein plaques, forms the tangles that make these brain’s unable to think clearly, resulting in dementia.
Herpes is disrupting information flow
There is definitely a connection between the herpes invasion of nervous tissue and cognitive decline.
It ‘s not as simple as herpes causes Alzheimer’s Disease, as with most diseases, it is a complex interplay between genes and environment.
Watch who you kiss
This is probably only useful advice if you haven’t already acquired a herpes virus, but is quite a tough one to follow. Neither your family nor your boyfriend will appreciate you taking a health stand.
If you do have the virus, treat any flare ups as serious. Get treatment, sooner rather than later, to stop the virus from actively travelling through your nervous system.
Herpes Simplex Virus Dances with Amyloid Precursor Protein while Exiting the Cell. PLoS ONE, 2011; 6 (3): e17966. Shi-Bin Cheng, Paulette Ferland, Paul Webster, Elaine L. Bearer
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