H. pylori infection, dementia and POAG link found

March 25, 2015

Neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia and glaucoma have been linked to each other and to H. pylori infection, in a recent study published in BMC Ophthalmology.

Neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia and glaucoma have been linked to each other and to H. pylori infection, in a recent study published in BMC Ophthalmology.

The study, led by Dr Fani Tsolaki (Department of Ophthalmology, Hippokrateion General Hospital, Thessaloniki, Greece) involved 156 participants, including 60 patients diagnosed with dementia and 35 patients with primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG). Researchers used a wide range of diagnostic procedures to elucidate the putative association between dementia, POAG and H. pylori infection, in all possible combinations.

The authors discovered the following positive correlations:

·      H. pylori infection occurred more frequently in patients with neurodegenerative diseases, in comparison to the control group

o   68.33% in dementia patients vs. 45.16% control; p < 0.05

o   68.57% in glaucoma patients vs. 45.16% control; p < 0.05

·      Glaucoma occurred more frequently in patients with dementia than in control patients (16.66% vs. 0%)

·      Dementia occurred more frequently in patients with glaucoma than in control patients (16.66% vs. 0%)

 

The pathophysiological pathways behind the correlations is not yet known, however one possible theory is that H. pylori infection initiates immune response mechanisms which create cross-reactions as a result of shared genetic components also commonly found in nerve tissue. The authors proposed that these reactions induce apoptosis-related cell destruction frequently seen in neurodegenerative diseases.

A second theory stated by the authors is that of ‘augmented permeability of the blood-brain barrier’ in patients with neurodegenerative diseases. This phenomenon may give H. pylori the chance to enter the barrier and accelerate or influence the disease course.

These study findings may lead to a widely-accepted eradication of H. pylori to prevent against dementia and glaucoma, as well as the establishment of routine diagnostic examinations for glaucoma in patients with dementia and vice versa.

To read the full abstract click here.