The 21st century epidemic: Infections as inductors of neuro-degeneration associated with Alzheimer's Disease

Federico Licastro, Ilaria Carbone, Elena Raschi, Elisa Porcellini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a complex disease resulting in neurodegeneration and cognitive impairment. Investigations on environmental factors implicated in AD are scarce and the etiology of the disease remains up to now obscure. The disease's pathogenesis may be multi-factorial and different etiological factors may converge during aging and induce an activation of brain microglia and macrophages. This microglia priming will result in chronic neuro-inflammation under chronic antigen activation. Infective agents may prime and drive iper-activation of microglia and be partially responsible of the induction of brain inflammation and decline of cognitive performances. Age-associated immune dis-functions induced by chronic sub-clinical infections appear to substantially contribute to the appearance of neuro-inflammation in the elderly. Individual predisposition to less efficient immune responses is another relevant factor contributing to impaired regulation of inflammatory responses and accelerated cognitive decline. Life-long virus infection may play a pivotal role in activating peripheral and central inflammatory responses and in turn contributing to increased cognitive impairment in preclinical and clinical AD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number22
JournalImmunity and Ageing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 5 2014


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Herpes virus latency
  • Inflammatory markers and cognitive decline
  • Neuro-inflammation
  • Peripheral inflammation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Ageing


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