Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Does antiherpetic antiviral therapy reduce the risk of dementia?

Several studies indicate that, in individuals infected with herpes simplex virus and/or varicella zoster virus, antiviral therapy reduces the subsequent risk of Alzheimer disease and other types of dementia. As highlighted in this article, the preventative potential of antiviral therapy would probably be maximized by treating asymptomatic as well as symptomatic infected individuals.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Prices vary by article type



Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout


  1. Tsai, M. C. et al. Increased risk of dementia following herpes zoster ophthalmicus. PLoS One 12, e0188490 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Tzeng, N. S. et al. Anti-herpetic medications and reduced risk of dementia in patients with herpes simplex virus infections — a nationwide, population-based cohort study in Taiwan. Neurotherapeutics 15, 417–429 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Chen, V. C. et al. Herpes zoster and dementia: a nationwide population-based cohort study. J. Clin. Psychiatry 79, 16m11312 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Itzhaki, R. F. et al. Herpes simplex virus type 1 in brain and risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Lancet 349, 241–244 (1997).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Itzhaki, R. F. Overwhelming evidence for a major role for herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1) in Alzheimer’s disease (AD); underwhelming evidence against. Vaccines 9, 679 (2021).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Bae, S. et al. Association of herpes zoster with dementia and effect of antiviral therapy on dementia: a population-based cohort study. Eur. Arch. Psychiatry Clin. Neurosci. 271, 987–997 (2021).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Schnier, C. et al. Antiherpetic medication and incident dementia: observational cohort studies in four countries. Eur. J. Neurol. 28, 1840–1848 (2021).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Lopatko Lindman, K. et al. Herpesvirus infections, antiviral treatment, and the risk of dementia — a registry-based cohort study in Sweden. Alzheimers Dement. 7, e12119 (2021).

    Google Scholar 

  9. Young-Xu, Y. et al. Symptomatic herpes simplex virus infection and risk of dementia in US veterans: a cohort study. Neurotherapeutics (2021).

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Hemmingsson, E. S. et al. Antiviral treatment associated with reduced risk of clinical Alzheimer’s disease — a nested case-control study. Alzheimers Dement. 7, e12187 (2021).

    Google Scholar 

Download references


The author thanks the Advantage Foundation for financial support.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ruth F. Itzhaki.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The author declares no competing interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Itzhaki, R.F. Does antiherpetic antiviral therapy reduce the risk of dementia?. Nat Rev Neurol 18, 63–64 (2022).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing