Bladder infection may contribute to neurological disorder, Flemish researchers discover

Patients have an increased risk of developing the rare, aggressive neurological disorder multiple system atrophy (MSA) after a bladder infection. This was revealed on Friday, based on new research from KU Leuven and the American Van Andel Research Institute.

MSA is a disorder that affects about one in 25,000 people. In the disease, nerve cells and certain areas of the brain are gradually affected and eventually die. This causes damage to the nervous system and leads patients to experience problems with breathing, digestion, bladder control and blood pressure.

Research by KU Leuven and the Van Andel Research Institute now shows that bladder infections may be a trigger for the accumulation of the protein α-synuclein. This process causes the breakdown of brain cells and contributes to the development of MSA. Bladder infections increase the risk of developing the disorder by up to three times, the study found.

"We chose bladder infections in this study because many patients with MSA report suffering from this regularly, even in the years before their diagnosis," says KU Leuven professor Wouter Peelaerts. "This study shows that a bladder infection, which at first glance seems trivial, can have far-reaching consequences."

While the study focused specifically on bladder infections, other inflammations having the same effect cannot be ruled out, Peelaerts adds. "The production of α-synuclein is present in any inflammatory response."


#FlandersNewsService | © FRED TANNEAU / AFP

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