Getting Chickenpox Can Increase Alzheimer's Risk: How To Manage It

Getting Chickenpox Can Increase Alzheimer's Risk: How To Manage It

Chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus which can lead to the onset of other diseases. A new study has found that it can lead to the onset of Alzheimer's disease.

Written by Arushi Bidhuri |Updated : August 10, 2022 7:31 PM IST

Chickenpox is an infectious disease that is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. A person who has it can develop red rashes all over their body. Chickenpox is a contagious disease, and an infected individual can infect another with this illness. A person may contract chickenpox if they come into direct contact with a person who is infected. The sickness mostly affects children and adolescents, and it spreads because of a lack of cleanliness.

Chickenpox is itself an infectious disease, but it can also lead to certain complications. A new study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease found that there is a link between Alzheimer's and chickenpox.

Chickenpox May Increase The Risk Of Alzheimer's

Varicella zoster virus (VZV), which frequently causes chickenpox and shingles, may activate herpes simplex virus (HSV), a common virus, to trigger the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, according to a global team of researchers. A three-dimensional human tissue culture model that mimicked the brain was employed by the team from Tufts University in the US and the University of Oxford in the UK.

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The study demonstrated that there is only a connection between HSV-1 and Alzheimer's disease when it is reactivated and results in sores, blisters, and other excruciating inflammatory disorders. The researchers used tiny, 6-millimeter-wide doughnut-shaped sponges comprised of silk protein and collagen to recreate a brain-like environment to better comprehend the cause-and-effect relationship between viruses and Alzheimer's disease.

The researchers discovered that although VZV can infect neurons grown in brain tissue, this alone did not result in the formation of the hallmark proteins tau and beta-amyloid, which are parts of the tangled mass of fibres and plaques that develop in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. Instead, the neurons continued to function normally. However, if quiescent HSV-1 was already present in the neurons, exposure to VZV caused HSV to become active again, causing a sharp rise in tau and beta-amyloid proteins as well as a slowing of the neuronal signals. They discovered that HSV-1, one of the major HSV varieties, generally remains dormant within the brain's neurons, but when it is triggered, it causes an accumulation of tau and amyloid beta proteins and a loss of neuronal function, which are distinguishing symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

How To Reduce The Risk Of Developing Chickenpox?

The best way to avoid chickenpox is to get the chickenpox vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), everyone who has never had chickenpox or been immunised should receive two doses of the vaccine, including children, adolescents, and adults. The vaccine for chickenpox is extremely secure and successful at preventing the illness. Most vaccine recipients won't contract chickenpox. If a person who has had the vaccination develops chickenpox, their symptoms are typically milder, with fewer or no blisters (they may only have red spots), and a low-grade fever, if not none at all.