Neurology Central

Rosacea and Alzheimer’s disease – are they linked?

New findings from a study carried out at the University of Copenhagen (Denmark) have indicated a potential link between rosacea and an increased risk of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease. The risk was highest in older individuals and in those diagnosed with rosacea by a hospital dermatologist. The findings were published recently in the Annals of Neurology.

Rosacea is characterized by increased expression of particular proteins, including antimicrobial peptides and matrix metalloproteinases that have also been linked to neurodgeneration. This potential association led lead author Alexander Egeberg (University of Copenhagen) and his team to commence the current investigation, utilizing Danish registers to analyze any possible correlation.

The Danish register indicated 82,439 Danish citizens aged 18 years or older diagnosed with rosacea between 1997 and 2012. In total, 99,040 individuals developed dementia during the time period, of which 29,193 were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease specifically.

Even following adjustments for confounding factors, the rosacea patients indicated an overall increased risk of dementia of 7% and a heightened risk of Alzheimer’s disease specifically of 25%, in comparison to citizens within the database that did not have rosacea (approximately 5.5 million).

Women with rosacea were also more affected by the association, with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease of 28% in comparison to 16% in men with rosacea. The risk of Azheimer’s disease was also significantly increased (20%) in those of 60 years or over. Finally, patients diagnosed with rosacea by a hospital dermatologist exhibited largely increased risks of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease of 42% and 92%, respectively.

“A subtype of patients have prominent neurological symptoms such as burning and stinging pain in the skin, migraines, and neuropsychiatric symptoms, suggesting a link between rosacea and neurological diseases,” explained Egeberg.

He also went on: “There are certain mechanistic overlaps between rosacea and Alzheimer’s disease that may explain the observed association, albeit the pathogenic links between these conditions are still unclear.”

This lack of information is paramount, however the team hope that the results of the study will help in adding to the body of information linking the skin and neurodegenerative disorders.

Sources: Wiley press release; Egeberg A, Hansen PR, Gislason GH, Thyssen JP. Patients with rosacea have increased risk of dementia. Ann Neurol. DOI: 10.1002/ana.24645 (2016).