Candida albicans is a yeast infection that causes inflammation in the brain and leads to mild and temporary memory problems. The yeast causes granuloma-type structures that are similar to plaques seen in Alzheimer's sufferers.
The discovery will open up a new line of research that explores any link between Alzheimer's and C. albicans infection, say researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine. Fungal infections could also be linked to other neuro-degenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis.
Their observations have so far been restricted only to the brains of laboratory mice, and so they need to discover if similar processes would be seen in people. In their tests on mice, the researchers noted that although the yeast infection cleared in 10 days, the inflammation on the brain remained for 21 days.
They're encouraged by the clue that people with fungal infections that cause allergic diseases and sepsis are also more likely to develop dementia in older age.