Influenza vaccine has surprising effect against the advance of Alzheimer’s disease

Deepak Gupta June 28, 2022
Updated 2022/06/28 at 8:40 PM

In recent years, vaccines have been the subject of extensive research and many studies have been carried out to understand the impacts that these drugs would have on the human body. Some data even show surprising results, as was the case with a study linking the flu vaccine to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

The conclusions are promising, but little is known about the mechanisms behind this effect.

Flu Vaccine Helps Fight Alzheimer's

The University of Texas Health Science Center, UTHealth Houston, recently released the results of a study which associates to Flu vaccine to reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease. As mentioned, the results are promising, but little is known about the mechanisms behind this effect and, therefore, how to exploit it.

The study was carried out in the United States and realized that there was a 40% reduction in the likelihood associated with developing Alzheimer's disease and having received the flu vaccine. Specifically, the researchers found that while 8.5% of those who did not receive the vaccine developed the disease during the study period, the proportion dropped to 5.1% among those who received the vaccine.

Study details are now available in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. More than two million profiles were analyzed in the studyfrom which 935,887 vaccinated and 935,887 unvaccinated participants were selected.

The participants were Americans over 65 years of age. The study followed them for four years.

Details about the investigation

The technique used is known as Propensity Score Matching, a technique in which "pairs" of participants with similar characteristics are matched. This methodology allows researchers to obtain valuable information on treatment effects, although it is not considered to be as accurate as randomized controlled trials.

The possible link between the flu vaccine and Alzheimer's disease resistance is not entirely new. Two years ago, the UTH team of researchers published the first results. At that time, they analyzed the medical records of more than 300,000 patients looking for such a link.

Albert Amran, then a UTHealth student and co-author of both studies, explained that his theory was that Influenza virus proteins could "train" the body's immune response and thus protect against Alzheimer's disease. He also pointed to the need for more analysis and clinical trials to explore the flu vaccine as a "public health strategy in the fight against [a doença de Alzheimer]".

Vaccines that protect

These discoveries did not come alone. Also in 2020, two studies found similar links. One found that the Pneumonia vaccination could reduce Alzheimer's incidence by up to 40%while another found that seniors with dementia were much more likely to die after contracting an infection than those without dementia.

These data led the team to further investigate the mechanisms that link vaccination targeted at some diseases to immunity against Alzheimer's disease.

We are thinking that this is not a specific effect of the flu vaccine.

Explains Paul Schulz, another member of the investigation team.

This researcher also noted that there is still much to discover about how the immune system reacts in these cases. Another unanswered question is whether the vaccine only helps to prevent Alzheimer's disease or whether it also has a positive effect on later stages of the disease.

It is estimated that there are more than 35 million people worldwide with Alzheimer's disease.

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