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Peptides that form amyloid plaques in Alzheimer’s may be transmissible, study finds

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 10 September 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h4831
  1. Susan Mayor
  1. 1London

Amyloid β, the peptide that forms amyloid plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease, may be transmissible through medical treatments such as blood products and surgical instruments, a small UK study published in Nature has shown.1

Researchers working on iatrogenic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (iCJD) unexpectedly found four autopsy cases with moderate to severe deposition of amyloid β in the grey matter of the brain typical of that seen in Alzheimer’s disease. They also found the peptide in the blood vessel walls deposited in a way that was characteristic of cerebral amyloid angiopathy.

The London based research group was working on an autopsy study of eight people aged 36 to 51 with iCJD, which was typically contracted by the use of human cadaveric pituitary derived growth hormone contaminated with prions. This treatment was withdrawn in 1985, but cases continue to emerge because of the prolonged incubation periods that can occur in human …

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