Research Roundup: Potential Link Between Herpes and Neurodegenerative Disease.


by Naba Batool

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Where it was suggested that there is a certain protein named optineurin or OPTN that can limit the spread of type 1 herpes simplex.

This new study has led to the discovery of a potential link that exists between neurodegenerative diseases and herpes simplex. According to the lead author Shukla, “OPTN is a host-specific limiting factor for neuroinvasive HSV-1 infection”.

For several decades researchers have been seeking the answer to the query,  ‘why immunocompromised people are more prone to the effects of HSV-1?’. This virus tends to have harmful effects on the central nervous system. This can lead to the onset of severe degenerative diseases of both brain and eyes. But various studies have pointed out that the effects of this virus can be suppressed due to a primary infection.

Shukla further explained that “OPTN blocks the growth of the virus and autophagy blocks the virus. It involves virus particles in small vesicles called autophagosomes. The autophagy that occurs is highly selective. This is another virus. It also makes sense.” The results of this study can be applied to all the eight species of known herpes virus.

In this study mice that were depleted from OPTN were infected with HSV-1 in the eye. The rate of viral proliferation was significantly high in those animals which lack OPTN.  This leads to the killing of a large number of local neurons that ultimately results in animal death.  This solidifies the research claims that OPTN and its absence can cause faster neuron degeneration.

Chandrashekhar Patil who is the co-author of this paper said that. This study also shows that there is an impaired immune response in the absence of OPTN. OPTN is needed to signal the proper influx of immune cells at the site of infection. In the absence of it. “There will be problems”.

These problems can be linked to the onset of cognitive memory loss and other types of neurodegenerative diseases.

According to this research, Shukla explained that they are working on patterns that can fix OPTN problems so that the risk of neurodegenerative diseases can be lowered.

This study is published in Nature Communications.