Nose picking has always been a big deal — now a study says it may lead to late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.


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Nose picking may be more than just a social mistake.

A study conducted in Australia suggests that there may be a link between nose picking and delayed development Alzheimer’s disease.

The study, titled “Chlamydia pneumoniae can infect the central nervous system via the olfactory and trigeminal nerves and contribute to the risk of Alzheimer’s disease” was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Examining the ability of bacteria to travel through the nose and brain of mice.

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Chlamydia pneumoniae is a Respiratory system pathogen but can also infect the central nervous system (CNS),” according to the study — noting that there is an “increasingly clear” relationship between pneumococcal infection in the central nervous system and the development of late-onset dementia.

The study revealed that the bacteria are transmitted between the nose and the brain in mice.

Medical researchers advise people to refrain from scratching their nose or plucking their nose hair, as this can damage the nose from the inside – increasing the risk of infection.
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“We are the first to show that chlamydia pneumoniae can go directly into the nose and into the brain where it can cause diseases that… It looks like Alzheimer’s diseaseDr. James St. John, one of the study’s co-authors, said in a press release published October 28, 2022.

“We’ve seen this happen in a mouse model, and the evidence is potentially scary for humans as well.”

When the mouse’s nose was infected with pneumococcus bacteria, there was “an increase in peripheral neuralgia and olfactory bulb”.

St. John is Chair of the Clem Jones Center for Neurobiology and Stem Cell Research at Griffith University in Southeast Queensland, Australia.

The researchers note that “in mice, CNS infection was shown to occur weeks to months after nasal inoculation.”

However, in this study scientists showed that the mice’s nose and facial nerves, along with their olfactory bulbs and brains, became infected within three days of being exposed to the bacteria.

The study authors said the next steps would be to repeat the study with human patients -- to determine if human noses are similar routes of bacterial infection.

The study authors said the next steps would be to repeat the study with human patients — to determine if human noses are similar routes of bacterial infection.
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The study said, “Pneumococcal infection also led to a dysregulation of key pathways involved in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease at 7 and 28 days after vaccination.”

When the mouse’s nose was infected with pneumococcus bacteria, there was “an increase in peripheral neuralgia and olfactory bulb”.

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The next steps will be to repeat study St. John said with human patients to determine whether the human nose is similar routes of bacterial infection.

“We need to do this study in humans and see if the same pathway works the same way,” he said in a press release.

Lab mice in the Australian study were exposed to the bacteria and then developed symptoms similar to Alzheimer's disease.

Lab mice in the Australian study were exposed to the bacteria and then developed symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s disease.
(iStock)

“It’s a research that has been suggested by many people, but it’s not yet complete.”

“What we do know is that these same bacteria are present in humans, but we haven’t determined how they got there,” St John added.

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Alzheimer’s is the fifth cause of death in the United States for adults over age 65, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the seventh leading cause of death for adults overall.

About 6.5 million people in the United States live with Alzheimer’s disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, making it the most common form of dementia in older adults.

"If you damage the lining of the nose, you can increase the number of bacteria that can reach your brain," Dr James St John from Griffith University in southeast Queensland, Australia said.

“If you damage the lining of the nose, you can increase the number of bacteria that can get into your brain,” said Dr James St John of Griffith University in southeast Queensland, Australia.
(iStock)

Alzheimer’s disease has no known cause, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

In the meantime, St. John advises people to refrain from scratching their nose or plucking their nose hair, as this can damage the nose from the inside, increasing the risk of any kind of infection.

“We don’t want to damage the inside of our nose, and plucking and plucking can result,” he said in a press release.

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“If you damage the lining of the nose, you can increase the number of bacteria that can get into your brain.”

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