Can Some Vaccines Reduce Your Alzheimer’s Risk?

needle and medicine

Dec. 3, 2020 — Could vaccines play a task in stopping Alzheimer’s illness?

Researchers are that query extra broadly after discovering that the flu and pneumonia vaccines may additionally assist defend towards the devastating reminiscence lack of Alzheimer’s illness.

Svetlana Ukraintseva, PhD, an affiliate analysis professor within the Biodemography of Aging Research Unit on the Duke University Social Science Research Institute, researched a potential hyperlink between the pneumonia vaccine and Alzheimer’s in a research launched this 12 months.

She says her staff is now trying on the results of vaccines on Alzheimer’s illness on a bigger group — 50,000 folks. She additionally plans to analyze whether or not different vaccines, past the flu and pneumonia photographs, may increase immunity and defend towards Alzheimer’s, and the way infections like pneumonia and herpes have an effect on Alzheimer’s danger.

“So we can compare not only how several different vaccines affect Alzheimer’s disease, but also several different infectious diseases,” she says. She expects to have ends in a couple of month, and can disclose then which vaccines are beneath research.

The Pneumonia Vaccine

Ukraintseva’s research checked out information from greater than 5,000 folks, ages 65 and over, who had been a part of the Cardiovascular Health Study, which was sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The authors discovered that getting a pneumonia vaccine between ages 65 and 75 diminished the chance of Alzheimer’s illness by as much as 30%. In individuals who did not carry a particular Alzheimer’s genetic danger issue — referred to as rs2075650 G — the discount in Alzheimer’s danger was even higher — as much as 40%.

Ukraintseva says she selected that specific genetic danger issue as a result of it helps to control the blood-brain barrier. That barrier prevents viruses and different dangerous substances from moving into the mind. A weakened barrier may contribute to Alzheimer’s illness.

The Flu Shot and Alzheimer’s

In one other research this 12 months, individuals who obtained a number of flu vaccines had been 17% much less more likely to get Alzheimer’s illness. Those who obtained their flu shot extra typically had an extra 13% decrease danger. Getting the primary flu shot earlier in life — at age 60 — appeared to supply higher safety than ready till age 70 to get the vaccine.

“Overall, we found that flu shots, and more frequent flu shots, were associated with less cases of Alzheimer’s disease,” says Albert Amran, a fourth-year medical scholar at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, who led the research.

These aren’t the one research to hyperlink vaccines with a diminished danger of Alzheimer’s illness. An older research of 4,000 folks ages 65 and older discovered that individuals who’d been uncovered to the diphtheria, tetanus, polio, or flu vaccine had a decrease danger for dementia. In one other research, folks with continual kidney illness who obtained the flu vaccine had been 30% to 40% much less more likely to get dementia, in comparison with those that weren’t vaccinated.

How Might Vaccines Protect Against Alzheimer’s Disease?

Researchers do not know precisely, however they’ve a couple of theories. “Perhaps preventing the viral infection itself may protect against neurological [brain] complications of the infection,” Amran says.

Another risk facilities on the immune system usually. As we become old, our immune system weakens, and it will possibly’t reply as rapidly or as strongly to viruses and different threats because it did once we had been younger. It’s additionally not pretty much as good at protecting dangerous substances out of our mind, or as environment friendly at fixing any injury that does occur to the mind.

Vaccines not solely stop a particular kind of an infection, however they could additionally give the immune system an total increase. “You have this activated immune response for maybe several months or years, which allows you to also be protected against a bunch of other diseases,” Ukraintseva says.

It’s additionally potential that individuals who get vaccinated take higher care of their well being in different methods — for instance, they eat a nutritious diet and train — which helps defend them from Alzheimer’s illness. The authors of each research tried to manage for different wholesome practices however could not verify whether or not they performed a task in Alzheimer’s prevention.

The Takeaway

Getting your really useful flu and pneumonia vaccines protects you towards these infections and the problems they’ll trigger. These two research counsel that these vaccines may additionally supply an additional profit by defending you towards dementia.

Vaccines may have one other benefit, too. Because they increase the immune system response as a complete, they could assist folks reside longer, Ukraintseva says. “The million-dollar question is to select all of the vaccines with that rejuvenating effect on the immune system. In this case, we will have two wins: preventing Alzheimer’s, and probably some sort of anti-aging intervention.”

The CDC recommends that everybody over age 6 months get a flu shot each fall, and that adults over 65 get a pneumococcal vaccine to guard towards these infections.


Albert Amran, fourth-year medical scholar, McGovern Medical School at UTHealth.

Alzheimer’s Association: “Flu, Pneumonia Vaccinations Tied to Lower Risk of Alzheimer’s Dementia.”

CDC: “Pneumococcal Vaccine Recommendations,” “Who Needs a Flu Vaccine and When.”

Canadian Medical Association Journal: “Past exposure to vaccines and subsequent risk of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease: “Role of Blood-Brain Barrier in Alzheimer’s Disease.”

Medicine: “Influenza Vaccination Reduces Dementia Risk in Chronic Kidney Disease Patients.”

Svetlana Ukraintseva, PhD, affiliate analysis professor, Biodemography of Aging Research Unit, Duke University Social Science Research Institute.


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