Five people developed Alzheimer’s after cadaveric growth hormone therapy


Five people who were treated with human growth hormone derived from cadaveric pituitaries during infancy (a currently banned treatment) developed early, progressive disorders in cognition that met diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer’s disease. Although this result is very rare, these findings, published in Nature Medicine, suggest that Alzheimer’s disease may have medically acquired (iatrogenic) forms. However, there is no evidence that it can be transmitted in other contexts, such as routine care or daily life. Just a decade ago the idea that Alzheimer’s disease could be transmissible between people seemed unthinkable. But, in 2015 the journal ‘Nature’ published results that implied the first evidence of transmission of the amyloid beta protein – related to this pathology – between humans. In 2018, another study by the same group of researchers from University College London (United Kingdom) published in this same journal confirmed that some vials of a hormone used in medical treatments contained ‘seeds’ of the amyloid protein, implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s. And even more, these ‘seeds’ are capable of causing amyloid pathology in mice, a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease. Does this mean that Alzheimer’s disease is contagious? The authors asked themselves. “We cannot yet confirm whether medical or surgical procedures have caused Alzheimer’s disease in people or whether it is possible that some people could have acquired amyloid pathology in this way,” acknowledged the study’s lead author, Professor John Collinge. director of the UCL Institute of Prion Diseases and consultant neurologist at UCLH. Related News 125th anniversary of the 98 standard disaster Yes A simple blood test could discover cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Raquel Peláez Now you have the answer. All of the people described in the article had been treated as children with a type of human growth hormone extracted from the pituitary glands of deceased individuals (cadaver-derived human growth hormone, or c-hGH). It was used to treat at least 1,848 people in the United Kingdom between 1959 and 1985, and was used for various causes of short stature. It was withdrawn in 1985 after it was recognized that some batches of c-hGH were contaminated with prions (infectious proteins) that had caused Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in some people. c-hGH was later replaced by a synthetic growth hormone that did not carry the risk of transmitting CJD. The unusually young age at which these patients developed symptoms suggests that they did not have sporadic Alzheimer’s. Postmortem analyzes previously revealed beta pathology. Code Desktop Image for mobile, amp and app Mobile code AMP code APP code amyloid, a characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease, in the brains of some of these people. However, it is not clear whether these people had symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease before their death, as these could have been masked by their symptoms from the European Court of Justice. Previous research showed that some archived batches of c-hGH still contained measurable amounts of beta-amyloid and could transmit this pathology to mice. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s This current study describes eight British people who received c-hGH in childhood but did not develop CJD. Five of these patients presented with symptoms consistent with early-onset dementia (ages 38 to 55 at symptom onset) that met the diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer’s disease, with progressive impairment in two or more cognitive domains severe enough to affect the performance of your usual daily activities. Of the remaining three people, one had symptoms (onset at age 42) that met the diagnostic criteria for mild cognitive impairment, another had only subjective cognitive symptoms, and the third was asymptomatic. The unusually young age at which these patients developed symptoms suggests that they did not have the usual sporadic Alzheimer’s that is associated with old age. In the five patients in whom samples were available for genetic testing, the team ruled out hereditary Alzheimer’s disease. Biomarker analyses, which cannot be used to diagnose the disease in the absence of symptoms, supported the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease in two of the people diagnosed with the condition and suggested Alzheimer’s disease in another person. Related News standard No The BBVA Foundation rewards key findings in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or ALS Rafael Ibarra The revolutionary discoveries about proteins are fundamental both to understand the origin of many diseases and to develop new treatments The authors also carried out autopsy studies on two patients who died during the study period, including extensive brain tissue sampling; one of these patients also showed Alzheimer’s pathology. Additionally, genetic testing for genes causing early-onset Alzheimer’s disease was negative in all five patients for whom samples were obtained. There is no indication that Alzheimer’s disease can be acquired through close contact or during medical care Gargi Banerjee UCL Prion Diseases Institute Findings indicate that Alzheimer’s disease is potentially transmissible and propose that, like CJD, Alzheimer’s It can have sporadic, hereditary and rare acquired forms. «We have discovered that it is possible for amyloid beta pathology to be transmitted and contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. This transmission occurred after treatment with a now obsolete form of growth hormone and involved repeated treatments with contaminated material, often over several years. “There is no indication that Alzheimer’s disease can be acquired through close contact or during medical care,” says first author Gargi Banerjee, from the UCL Institute of Prion Diseases. However, they emphasize that iatrogenic transmission of Alzheimer’s disease is probably rare, since c-hGH is no longer used and the patients described in this study developed symptoms after repeated exposures over several years. Additionally, no cases of Alzheimer’s acquired by other medical or surgical procedures have been reported. Safety However, the researchers caution that their findings highlight the importance of reviewing measures to ensure that there is no risk of accidental transmission of beta-amyloid through other medical or surgical procedures that have been implicated in the accidental transmission of CJD. Collinge emphasizes that there is no suggestion that Alzheimer’s disease can be transmitted between individuals during activities of daily living or routine medical activities. “The patients we have described received a specific and long-discontinued medical treatment that consisted of injecting them with material that is now known to be contaminated with proteins related to the disease.” Transmission of the disease from human brain to brain in this way should not occur again Andrew Doig University of Manchester “However, recognition of the transmission of beta-amyloid pathology in these rare situations should lead us to review measures to prevent accidental transmission through other medical or surgical procedures, in order to prevent these types of cases from occurring in the future,” he warns. Understanding Alzheimer’s In addition, the findings provide potentially valuable information about the mechanisms of the disease and “pave the way for future research that we hope to improve our understanding of the causes of the most typical and late-onset Alzheimer’s disease,” concludes the co-author. Jonathan Schott, medical director of Alzheimer’s Research UK. In any case, Andrew Doig, from the University of Manchester (United Kingdom), tells Science Media Center that “although the new type of Alzheimer’s reported here is of great scientific interest, since it reveals a new way of spread of the disease, there is no reason to fear it, since the way the disease was caused was stopped more than 40 years ago. “Transmission of the disease from human brain to brain in this way should not occur again.”

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