Commentary on Flu and Pneumonia Vaccination and Reduced Risk of Alzheimer’s Dementia

Contributed by Hayk Davtyan, PhD

Vaccines have become one of the most discussed topics during the COVID-19 pandemic. From development to distribution, the whole world has their eyes on a new vaccine. However, promising new data has now brought common vaccines even to the forefront of discussion in the study of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). At the 2020 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference this week (#AAIC20), newly presented data shows how flu and pneumonia vaccines may lower the risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Hayk Davtyan, PhD

Previous studies have shown the possible connection between vaccination and reducing cognitive decline. Yet, there has not been a comprehensive analysis between the two, until now. Dr. Alberty Amran and his team at the McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston recently analyzed a large American health records database (n=9,066). They reported a 17% lower incidence rate of AD in those individuals who received one flu vaccination. Furthermore, they saw an additional reduction of 13% in AD for patients who received continued vaccination over a period of years. This data suggests a possible relationship between AD and flu vaccination and suggests the influenza vaccination may be an important consideration in epidemiological studies of risk factors of AD.

Another study, conducted by Dr. Svetlana Ukraintseva at the Duke University Social Science Research Institute, looked at the pneumococcal vaccine, typically given after the age of 65 to fight several infections. Researchers looked at 5,146 participants over 65 from the Cardiovascular Health Study. After adjusting for sex, race, birth cohort, education, smoking, and the connection to genetic risk factors, Dr. Ukraintseva’s team found a 25-30% reduced risk of developing AD in individuals who were vaccinated between the ages of 65 and 75 years. These results suggest that the pneumococcal vaccine may also be a promising candidate to potentially repurpose for personalized AD prevention.

Taken together, these findings provide compelling need for future study of vaccines in AD risk.

About Hayk Davtyan, PhD

Dr. Davtyan is an Associate Research Professor at UCI MIND. A major focus of his research centers around the neuroimmunology of AD and related disorders. Dr. Davtyan’s interest and expertise in this area includes the development and studies of various types of AD and Parkinson’s disease vaccines. His ongoing studies also examine the role of the adaptive immune system in AD and whether neuroprotective autoantibodies may slow or even prevent the development of AD. Dr. Davtyan also collaborates on projects led by Mathew Blurton-Jones, PhD, using human induced pluripotent stem cells in combination with chimeric animal models to examine the underlying molecular mechanisms that mediate neurodegenerative disease.