Evidence for the relation of herpes simplex virus type 1 to Down syndrome and Alzheimer's disease

Electrophoresis. 2001 Feb;22(3):445-8. doi: 10.1002/1522-2683(200102)22:3<445::AID-ELPS445>3.0.CO;2-8.


The peripheral and central nervous system are harbouring herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and this virus has been proposed to be implicated in the aetiology of Alzheimer's disease (AD). We tested whether the HSV-1 genome is found indeed in the brain of controls, patients with AD and Down syndrome (DS) and whether HSV-1 infectious proteins in brain were induced. Moreover, we tested whether interleukin (IL)-6, a marker for neuroinflammation, is found in brains of AD and DS. HSV-1 glycoprotein D gene, as well as viral phosphoprotein and glycoprotein were detected in all brain samples. IL-6 was detectable in seven out of the eight AD and all of the eight DS patients, but only three out of ten controls in the frontal cortex. IL-6 in cerebellum was detectable in all AD and DS patients, but only three out of nine controls. In conclusion, we propose that the detection of HSV-1 genome and HSV-1 inducible protein IL-6 not only shows the presence in human brain, but may indicate a role for HSV-1 in the process of neuroinflammation and apoptosis, known to occur in both neurodegenerative disorders, AD and DS.

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / blood
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Alzheimer Disease / virology*
  • Cerebellum / pathology
  • Cerebellum / virology*
  • Down Syndrome / blood
  • Down Syndrome / pathology
  • Down Syndrome / virology*
  • Frontal Lobe / pathology
  • Frontal Lobe / virology*
  • Glycoproteins / analysis
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human / genetics
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human / immunology
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Phosphoproteins / analysis
  • Viral Envelope Proteins / genetics


  • Glycoproteins
  • Interleukin-6
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Viral Envelope Proteins
  • glycoprotein D, Human herpesvirus 1