Researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston conducted a study that found older adults who had received an influenza shot could have up to forty percent less chance of developing alzheimers when compared to non-vaccinated individuals. This observation may help researchers to develop further theories to aid prevention of the disease.
For the study, the researchers from the Texas Health Science Center at Houston took a nationwide sample of U.S adults aged 65 and over. Each sample size for both the vaccinated and non-vaccinated patients sat at 935,887, a considerable increase from previous studies of a similar nature.
Over the course of four years, the researchers found that 5.1% of those who had been vaccinated developed Alzheimer's disease, while figures for the non-vaccinated patients sat at 8.5%. The figures indicated to the researchers that there may in fact be some connection between the vaccine and the disease. However, they are not exactly yet sure what this connection may be. Despite this, it is still an encouraging development.
"Since there is evidence that several vaccines may protect from Alzheimer's disease, we are thinking that it isn't a specific effect of the flu vaccine. Instead, we believe that the immune system is complex, and some alterations, such as pneumonia, may activate it in a way that makes Alzheimer's disease worse. But other things that activate the immune system may do so in a different way -- one that protects from Alzheimer's disease. Clearly, we have more to learn about how the immune system worsens or improves outcomes in this disease." said Paul. E. Schulz, director of the Neurocognitive Disorders Center at McGovern Medical School.
Now, the researchers can focus on further research and continue to analyse their findings which may help the disease to be better managed in the future.