Is there an Association Between Downs Syndrome and Alzheimer’s Disease?

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Is there an Association Between Downs Syndrome and Alzheimer’s Disease?      

Jim Windell

             Alzheimer’s disease (AD) accounts for 60–80% of dementias in those adults over the age of 65. And more than six million Americans are living with AD. On the other hand, Down syndrome (DS) affects approximately 8 in every 10,000 children and is the most common chromosomal disorder in kids.

           Both AD and DS have serious consequences for the individuals impacted, not to mention their family and friends. Yet to date there is neither prevention nor cure for either condition. However, with improved medical care in recent decades, more children with DS are living longer than did those young people with DS in the 20th century.

           According to Leslie Norins, M.D., Ph.D., this additional longevity has revealed an unexpected and startling phenomenon. After those afflicted with DS pass 30 years of age, 50% or more of these DS individuals develop Alzheimer’s disease. By age 60 years, at least 70% will develop Alzheimer’s. Writing in the January, 2022 issue of Medical Hypotheses, Norins suggests there is likely some link or relationship between Downs syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease.

           Norins contends that infection by viral, bacterial, and parasitic microorganisms are responsible for both DS and AD. Furthermore, he predicts that both conditions may be preventable.

           The founder of Alzheimer’s Germ Quest, a Florida-based charity to encourage deeper investigation of the possible role of microbes in Alzheimer’s disease, Norins has five reasons for believing there could be an association between DS and AD. Those reasons are: 1.) The neurodegeneration DS-AD is almost identical to that found in classic AD; 2.) Pathogens (viruses, bacteria, and parasites) are increasingly suspected of having a role in AD; 3.) Infectious agents acquired early in life may apparently disappear but resurface years later as a disease different than the initial one; 4.) Certain infectious agents, or immune reactions against them, are detected at higher-than-expected levels in DS children or their mothers; and 5.) Microbes can cause changes in chromosomes.

           Given these reasons for linking DS and AD, Norins acknowledges that there is much research still to do to find a clear link between the two. Learning more about the microbes involved in DS would help. So would DNA sequencing in those with Downs syndrome and controls early in life to determine if viral DNA is present. These areas and others warrant further evaluation and research. Norins says that suspicion that an infectious agent is likely involved in the development of DS and AD opens the doors for exploration of possible preventive measures and therapies.

           To read the original article, find it at:

Norins, L.C. (2022). Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease: Same infectious cause, same preventive? Medical Hypotheses, 158.



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