Evidence that Alzheimer’s disease may be transmissible keeps growing

Recent studies provide additional evidence that certain medical and surgical procedures can transmit amyloid-β (Aβ) proteins associated with Alzheimer disease from person-to-person.

Neuroscientists have amassed more evidence for the hypothesis that sticky proteins that are a hallmark of neurodegenerative diseases can be transferred between people under particular conditions — and cause new damage in a recipient’s brain.
They stress that their research does not suggest that disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease are contagious, but it does raise concern that certain medical and surgical procedures pose a risk of transmitting such proteins between humans, which might lead to brain disease decades later.

The work follows up on a 2015 Nature study published by the same research team that studied the brains of patients in the United Kingdom who developed Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) as a result of childhood treatment with cadaver-derived human growth hormone (hGH) preparations contaminated with prions.

Pathologists hadn’t expected to see the amyloid build up at such an early age. The neuroscientists suggested that small amounts of amyloid-beta had also been transferred from the growth-hormone samples, and had caused, or ‘seeded’, the characteristic amyloid plaques.


Source: Nature | 13 december 2018

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