This common fungus can trigger ‘key player’ in Alzheimer’s disease development

HOUSTON — A troubling new study shows a link between a common fungus and Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists from the Baylor College of Medicine are revealing how the fungus Candida albicans enters the brain, triggers mechanisms that aid in its clearance, and generates toxic protein fragments known as amyloid beta (Ab)-like peptides — a key player in Alzheimer’s disease development.

“Our lab has years of experience studying fungi, so we embarked on the study of the connection between C. albicans and Alzheimer’s disease in animal models,” says study corresponding author Dr. David Corry, the Fulbright Endowed Chair in Pathology and a professor of pathology and immunology and medicine at Baylor, in a university release. “In 2019, we reported that C. albicans does get into the brain where it produces changes that are very similar to what is seen in Alzheimer’s disease. The current study extends that work to understand the molecular mechanisms.”

The study first sought to unravel how Candida albicans gains access to the brain. Researchers discovered that the fungus produces enzymes called secreted aspartic proteases (Saps), which break down the blood-brain barrier — a protective barrier that usually prevents harmful substances from entering the brain. This breach allows the fungus to infiltrate the brain and cause damage.

The next question posed by the researchers was how the brain effectively clears the fungus. Previous research has shown that C. albicans brain infections resolve entirely in healthy mice after 10 days. In this study, the team unveiled two mechanisms triggered by the fungus in microglia brain cells, which play a crucial role in the brain’s immune response.

“The same Saps that the fungus uses to break the blood-brain barrier also break down the amyloid precursor protein into Ab-like peptides,” says study first author Dr. Yifan Wu, postdoctoral scientist in pediatrics working in the Corry lab. “These peptides activate microglial brain cells via a cell surface receptor called Toll-like receptor 4, which keeps the fungi load low in the brain, but does not clear the infection.”

Brain tumor seen in brain scan
(© sudok1 –

Additionally, C. albicans produces a protein called candidalysin that binds to microglia via a different receptor, CD11b.

“Candidalysin-mediated activation of microglia is essential for clearance of Candida in the brain,” notes Dr. Wu. “If we take away this pathway, fungi are no longer effectively cleared in the brain.”

The implications of this research extend to the understanding of Alzheimer’s disease development. The prevalent theory suggests that Alzheimer’s is primarily driven by the accumulation of toxic Ab-like peptides in the brain, leading to neurodegeneration. These peptides are believed to be produced endogenously within the brain.

However, the current study reveals an alternative source for these Ab-like peptides — C. albicans. This common fungus, previously detected in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other chronic neurodegenerative disorders, possesses its own set of proteases that can generate the same Ab-like peptides produced within the brain itself.

“We propose that the brain Ab-peptide aggregates that characterize multiple Candida-associated neurodegenerative conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and others, may be generated both intrinsically by the brain and by C. albicans,” explains Dr. Corry. “These findings in animal models support conducting further studies to evaluate the role of C. albicans in the development of Alzheimer’s disease in people, which can potentially lead to innovative therapeutic strategies.”

The study is published in the journal Cell Reports.

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  1. It will be great if this discovery leads to an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease.
    It should be possible to develop a vaccine, or even treat with anti-fungal agents.

    1. I agree.. that would be optimal. But I would like to know how the fungus is introduced into the brain. Thru inhalation, or ingestion and then on to the blood?
      Or is it always present…

  2. The fungus grows in body because immune system is disabled by heavy metals, usually its caused by mercury from dental fillings and vaccinations. Is easy to fix problem by having mercury dental fillings removed then using Andrew Cutler protocol to remove mercury and other heavy metals from body.

    1. thats entirely untrue. if you understood anything about mycosis you would know how utterly silly you sound

  3. All disease will be cured in the next 15 to 20 years through whole Genome simulation, and AI interpretation.

    1. Please expand on this. Pretty short window to cure all diseases. I’m sure you’d get push back from genome & AI scientists,

  4. Remember when stomach ulcers were caused by stress? This could be the H. Pylori of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. Even if it’s only one of multiple casual pathways? Still a significant discovery and line of investigation. Very impressive.

    1. Still is caused by stress as well! You must be hpylori causing ulcers & there are plenty if us who are hpylori negative w/ulcers!

  5. Terrifying. I’ve just gone through the “Hexa” infection, bacteria from Candida form a toxic pool in the stomach when they die. Alzheimer’s, any kind of dementia, is what I fear the most.

  6. Alzheimers is not from amyloid plaque and likely not these peptides. im not sure about the blood brain barrier topic. The main cause of Alzheimers is the brains inability to handle glucose. thats why they get such good results switching to keytones

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