Until now, only the widespread or genetic origin of the disease was known. According to a British study, Alzheimer's spreads under certain conditions.
Alzheimer's can spread under certain conditions and appear as a disease years later, writes the German research site Science Media Center (SMC). This is suggested by the results of a British study published in the journal “Nature Medicine”.
Alzheimer's study: Patients were treated with an extract taken from the pituitary gland of the deceased.
The study is based on an analysis of eight patients treated as children or adolescents with growth factors from tissue extracts of deceased pituitary glands. Five of these patients, aged 38 to 55 years, had symptoms consistent with early onset dementia and met diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer's disease. Two people were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in blood tests. Of the remaining three, one showed signs of mild cognitive impairment, another had only subjective cognitive symptoms, and the third was asymptomatic. Three of the eight died during the study. Researchers found clear signs of Alzheimer's disease in the brains of one of the dead.
This type of dementia can occur in people under the age of 50
According to the research team, tissue products can trigger dementia in the middle age group of 42 to 55 years. “This dementia differs from classic Alzheimer's disease in that it affects not only the former but also higher mental functions,” says Walter Schulz-Schaffer, director of the Institute of Neuropathology at Charland University Hospital.
At work, administration of pituitary hormone extracts during childhood or adolescence induces the normal aging process at a very early stage and therefore predisposes to disease development. With regard to preventing the spread of Alzheimer's disease through medical interventions, processing of medical devices was tightened in Germany in 2002 so that patients are not at risk, says Schulz-Schaffer.
Is Alzheimer's disease contagious? According to experts, further studies are now necessary
“This is an important pilot study that provides further evidence that treatments with certain growth hormones may have caused early-onset dementia in people,” emphasizes Michael Beeks, head of the research team.
According to the authors, the results clearly show that Alzheimer's disease can also spread due to medical activities. However, the conclusion was based on only five patients who developed dementia. Two of the subjects in question had mental disorders since childhood that were associated with a higher likelihood of early-onset dementia. “Further studies are therefore desirable and necessary and, if necessary, to support the visionary conclusions of the editorial board,” says the research team leader.