Flu vaccination linked to 40% reduction in risk of Alzheimer’s disease

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People who received at least one flu shot were 40% less likely than their unvaccinated peers to develop Alzheimer’s disease over a four-year period, according to a new study from UTHealth Houston.

Research led by first author Avram S. Bukhbinder, MD, a recent alumnus of McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, and lead author Paul. E. Schulz, MD, Rick McCord Professor of Neurology at McGovern Medical School, compared the risk of Alzheimer’s disease incidence between patients with and without a history flu vaccination in a large national sample of American adults aged 65 and older.

A first online version of the article detailing the results is available ahead of its publication in the August 2 issue of Alzheimer’s Disease Journal.

“We found that flu vaccination in older adults reduced the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease over several years. The strength of this protective effect increased with the number of years a person received a vaccine against influenza– in other words, the rate of developing Alzheimer’s disease was lowest in those who regularly received the flu vaccine every year,” said Bukhbinder, who remains part of Schulz’s research team during his first year of residency in the Division of Child Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital. “Future research should assess whether influenza vaccination is also associated with the rate of symptom progression. in patients who already have Alzheimer’s dementia.”

The study, which comes two years after UTHealth Houston researchers found a possible link between flu vaccine and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease – analyzed a much larger sample than previous research, including 935,887 flu-vaccinated patients and 935,887 unvaccinated patients.

During four-year follow-up appointments, approximately 5.1% of flu-vaccinated patients developed Alzheimer’s disease. Meanwhile, 8.5% of unvaccinated patients had developed Alzheimer’s disease during follow-up.

These results underscore the strong protective effect of the flu vaccine against Alzheimer’s disease, according to Bukhbinder and Schulz. However, the mechanisms underlying this process require further study.

“Since there is evidence that multiple vaccines can protect against Alzheimer’s disease, we believe this is not a specific effect of the flu vaccine,” said Schulz, who is also a professor of Alzheimer’s disease. the Umphrey Family in Neurodegenerative Diseases and Director of Neurocognitive Disorders. McGovern Medical School Center. “Instead, we believe that the immune system is complex and that certain alterations, such as pneumonia, can activate it in a way that makes Alzheimer’s disease worse. But other things that activate the immune system can do it in a different way, one that protects against Alzheimer’s disease. immune system worsens or improves the outcome in this disease.”

Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 6 million people living in the United States, with the number of those affected increasing due to the aging of the country’s population. Previous studies have found a decreased risk of dementia associated with previous exposure to various vaccines in adulthood, including those for tetanus, poliomyelitis, and herpes, in addition to the flu vaccine and others. .

Additionally, as time passes since the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine and longer follow-up data becomes available, Bukhbinder said it would be useful to investigate whether there is a similar association between COVID vaccination. -19 and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Flu and pneumonia vaccinations linked to lower risk of Alzheimer’s dementia

More information:
Avram S. Bukhbinder et al, Risk of Alzheimer’s disease after influenza vaccination: a claims-based cohort study using propensity score matching, Alzheimer’s Disease Journal (2022). DOI: 10.3233 / JAD-220361

Quote: Study: Flu vaccination linked to 40% lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease (2022, June 24) Retrieved June 24, 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-06-flu-vaccination -linked-alzheimer-disease.html

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