Can neonatal herpes lead to Alzheimer’s disease?


“I learned a lot during the COVID-19 pandemic … how viruses affect our behavior,” Dartmouth College Doctor of Medicine and PhD. Candidate Abigail Dutton said in a short video that recently took second place in the 2021 Ivy + 3-minute thesis competition. “But recent evidence suggests that other viruses can cause permanent changes in host behavior in the absence of social pressure.”

In the laboratory of Geisel School of Medicine, supervised by Professor David Leib of Microbiology and Immunology, Dutton is studying one of these “other viruses” while taking precautions against COVID-19.Herpes simplex..

“Currently, more than two-thirds of us may be infected with HSV,” Dutton warns. “It can survive decades in our nervous system, hide, and move to the brain as well as the skin.” Dutton sacrifices mouse herpes to humans due to Alzheimer’s disease. We have tested the nasty hypothesis that memory and learning can be impaired in a similar way.

In one of her experiments, day 1 herpes-infected mice share a box with two identical objects for 10 minutes. On the second day, one of these objects will be replaced by another. The typical curious mouse that Dutton envisioned would be more interested in new objects than older ones.

“The exact opposite has happened,” she says. “Infected mice show no preference for new objects, suggesting a flaw in their ability to learn and remember” novels “and” familiar “. “

Ultimately, Dutton wants to apply herpes lessons to pediatric clinical practice. She says the baby can catch the virus from a mother who may not even know she has it.

“I’m interested in the fact that herpes at an early age can destroy nerve structures, cause behavioral and brain changes, and result in neurodegenerative diseases,” says Dutton. “And that led me to this path. I see two ends: the end of aging of neurodegenerative disease and the first end of getting sick.”

Live states that Dutton is based on the work of former PhD lab members (such as Yike Jiang and Chaya Patel), but “Abby is definitely a pioneer and takes us to new territory. It’s a fearless technology blazer. “The team’s conclusions are based not only on the observed behavior of experimental mice, but also on data showing changes in their brains, he says.

“There is a lot of behavioral pathology, but there is also evidence that as these mice age, these lesions that appear to be indistinguishable from neurodegenerative appear in the brain. Abbey is very, very ambitious and very ambitious. You don’t take a prisoner to get the data she feels there. She’s noteworthy — confident and humble. You can see how she’s doing it. No, “Leib says.

Dutton says Geisel and her PhD Guarini Graduate and Higher Studies School offer an ideal double track that can combine neurological research with clinical training. After finishing her second year at Geisel, she spends a few more years writing a dissertation before returning to her final year of medicine.

Researchers provide new insights into how maternal immunity affects neonatal HSV

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Dartmouth College

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