Alzheimer-type brain pathology after transplantation of dura mater
News Jan 26, 2016
Up to now Alzheimer's disease has not been recognized as transmissible. Now researchers at the University of Zurich and the Medical University Vienna demonstrated Alzheimer-type pathology in brains of recipients of dura mater grafts who died later from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized by progressive dementia and brain plaques consisting of the Aβ protein. Conventional wisdom has it that AD is not a transmissible disease. However, plaques recovered from brains of AD patients were repeatedly found to induce further plaques when injected into the brains of laboratory mice, suggesting that transmission may actually occur.
Reporting in the Swiss Medical Weekly, Karl Frontzek and colleagues have investigated individuals who received brain grafts of dura mater during neurosurgery. The dura mater is the leathery membrane covering the brain and spinal cord. Such grafts were necessary to allow the brain to heal after surgery. Tragically, some of the dura mater donors were infected with prions (the agents causing the fatal Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease), and the grafting procedure transmitted the disease to the recipients.
Frontzek and colleagues now report the presence of Aβ plaques in 5 of 7 brains of relatively young recipients of dura mater grafts who succumbed to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Aβ plaques were detected much more frequently than in brains of people who did not receive any dura mater grafts. Aβ plaques are highly unusual in young individuals and may have been caused by the dural grafts. This study adds to the evidence that the hallmarks of AD may indeed be transmissible under certain circumstances, and calls for heightened attention to an unexpected, potentially very serious problem of transplantation medicine.
Note: Material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.
Frontzek K et al. Amyloid-β pathology and cerebral amyloid angiopathy are frequent in iatrogenic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease after dural grafting. Swiss Medical Weekly, Published January 26 2016. doi: 10.4414/smw.2016.14287
When infants are playing with objects, their early attempts to pay attention to things are accompanied by bursts of high-frequency activity in their brain. But what happens when parents play together with them? New research shows for the first time that when adults are engaged in joint play together with their infant, their own brains show similar bursts of high-frequency activity.
Many species of mammals have evolved what appear to be paradoxical behaviours towards their young. Like humans, most exhibit nurturing, protective behaviours, and in some circumstances even act as surrogate parents. However, virgin males often engage in infanticide as a strategy to propagate their own genes. How are these conflicting social behaviours controlled?