February 23, 2024

In rare cases, Alzheimer's disease can be transmissible

A new study suggests that Alzheimer's disease can be transmitted from person to person in rare circumstances. However, this does not happen through daily activities or routine care, but rather through medical incidents, as The Guardian writes.

Specifically, this means that some people developed early Alzheimer's disease after receiving human growth hormone from the pituitary glands of deceased donors. The researchers suspect that the hormones used were contaminated with proteins and thus caused the disease in their brains.

“We are in no way claiming that Alzheimer's disease can be detected. It is not an infection in the sense of a viral or bacterial disease,” stresses London professor John Collinge, a co-author of the study.

“The disease is only transmitted when people accidentally come into contact with human tissue or extracts from it.”

The researchers reported eight patients were referred to the National Prion Clinic between 2017 and 2022. All of them received human growth hormones from the pituitary glands of cadavers. Five showed symptoms of dementia that met clinical criteria for Alzheimer's disease.

The findings suggest that Alzheimer's disease could be caused by treatment with contaminated growth hormone, he told The Guardian. However, the cases in question required repeated exposure to contaminated human growth hormone over a period of years.

Therefore, Collinge and colleagues stress the importance of taking measures such as effective cleaning of surgical instruments.