ICYMI: Herpes Virus Causes Signs of Alzheimer’s in Mini-Brains

  • Published13 May 2020
  • Author Alexis Wnuk
  • Source BrainFacts/SfN
Herpes simplex viruses in cell nucleus
Herpes simplex virus particles (orange) in the nucleus of a corneal cell.

These were the top neuroscience stories for the week of May 4, 2020.

Herpes Virus Causes Signs of Alzheimer’s in Mini-Brains

Infection with the virus responsible for cold sores causes signs of Alzheimer’s in lab-grown mini-brains, according to a report on May 6 in Science Advances. The researchers coaxed human stem cells to grow into 3-D clumps of neurons called mini-brains and infected them with herpes simplex virus-1. Three days later, the infected mini-brains showed signs of inflammation and a buildup of amyloid-beta proteins linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Treatment with the herpes drug valacyclovir reduced inflammation and the number of protein plaques.

Big picture: Scientists are exploring the intriguing possibility that the hallmark plaques of Alzheimer’s disease are part of the brain’s immune response to pathogens. In 2018, researchers found large amounts of herpes simplex virus-1 in the brains of people who died with Alzheimer’s disease. Last year, researchers found people who died of Alzheimer’s had more of the gingivitis-causing bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis in their brains compared to people who died by other causes.

Read more: Common herpes virus causes signs of Alzheimer's disease in brain cells  (New Scientist)

Yoga May Help With Migraines

Daily yoga practice may reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines. Researchers reported May 6 in Neurology that they randomly assigned 114 migraine-sufferers into one of two groups: the first group received a prescription migraine medicine, while the second group learned and practiced a daily yoga routine in addition to receiving medication. Both groups reported fewer and less intense headaches after three months of treatment, but those in the yoga group showed the most significant improvements.

Big picture: In addition to traditional yoga poses, the participants also learned breathing techniques and meditations. Mindfulness practices like these can reduce stress and improve attention.

Read more: Yoga May Help Ease Migraines (The New York Times)

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