Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Stroke-Related Infectious Agents May Also Raise Risk for Cognitive Decline

Individuals exposed to common infectious pathogens that put them at risk for vascular disease—such as Chlamydia or herpes—may also be at risk for cognitive impairment, according to a report in Neurology. Researchers at Columbia University developed a composite serologic score—known as the infectious burden (IB) index—measuring exposure to common pathogens (such as Chlamydia pneumoniae, Helicobacter pylori, cytomegalovirus, and herpes simplex virus 1 and 2) that are associated with vascular risk. They performed serologic and cognitive assessments on 1,625 participants in the Northern Manhattan Study, a prospective study of stroke and stroke risk.

A higher IB index was associated with worse cognition in the study cohort. In an editorial accompanying the Neurology article Timo Strandberg, M.D., Ph.D., and Allison Aiello, Ph.D., say, “Several chronic diseases, such as peptic ulcer, certain cancers, and autoimmune conditions, have established infectious etiologies, either bacterial or viral, but mainstream cognitive disorder research has not fully considered microbial involvement.”

Some evidence has also emerged suggesting that infectious pathogens may be related to some cases of schizophrenia. To read more about that topic, see Psychiatric News here. An abstract of the Neurology report, "Infectious Burden and Cognitive Function: The Northern Manhattan Study,” can be read here.

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