Publications & Posters

Human in vivo evidence of associations between herpes simplex virus and cerebral amyloid-beta load in normal aging

Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy | April 3, 2024

Cantero JL, Atienza M, Sastre I, Bullido MJ.

Alzheimers Res Ther. 2024



Mounting data suggests that herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) is involved in the pathogenesis of AD, possibly instigating amyloid-beta (Aβ) accumulation decades before the onset of clinical symptoms. However, human in vivo evidence linking HSV-1 infection to AD pathology is lacking in normal aging, which may contribute to the elucidation of the role of HSV-1 infection as a potential AD risk factor.


To shed light into this question, serum anti-HSV IgG levels were correlated with 18F-Florbetaben-PET binding to Aβ deposits and blood markers of neurodegeneration (pTau181 and neurofilament light chain) in cognitively normal older adults. Additionally, we investigated whether associations between anti-HSV IgG and AD markers were more evident in APOE4 carriers.


We showed that increased anti-HSV IgG levels are associated with higher Aβ load in fronto-temporal regions of cognitively normal older adults. Remarkably, these cortical regions exhibited abnormal patterns of resting state-functional connectivity (rs-FC) only in those individuals showing the highest levels of anti-HSV IgG. We further found that positive relationships between anti-HSV IgG levels and Aβ load, particularly in the anterior cingulate cortex, are moderated by the APOE4 genotype, the strongest genetic risk factor for AD. Importantly, anti-HSV IgG levels were unrelated to either subclinical cognitive deficits or to blood markers of neurodegeneration.


All together, these results suggest that HSV infection is selectively related to cortical Aβ deposition in normal aging, supporting the inclusion of cognitively normal older adults in prospective trials of antimicrobial therapy aimed at decreasing the AD risk in the aging population.