April 29, 2024 at 9:27 am

Could Alzheimer’s Spread Through Blood Transfusions? New Research Suggests A Worrying Link.

by Trisha Leigh

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Alzheimer’s has one of the biggest research funds of any disease out there, and for good reason.

It affects many, and is devastating not only for the people suffering from it, but those who love them.

Now, scientists are finding evidence that it could be spread through a simple blood transfusion.

Researchers have suspected for a long time that more than genetic factors are at play. Environmental factors like exposure to pollution and eating a lot of meat and processed food seem to also lead to a Alzheimer’s diagnosis, or at least contribute to one.

Now, they’re thinking blood could go on that growing list as well.

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This new study, published in Stem Cell Reports, suggests that transfusions of blood, bone marrow, organs and other matter from one person who has hereditary Alzheimer’s Disease can cause the disease to show up in the recipient.

They came to this conclusion after performing extensive experiments on mice and their stem cells.

They bred mice to be carriers of human inheritable Alzheimer’s, as well as a gene that synthesizes amyloid plaques. Then they extracted stem cells from their bone marrow and injected that tissue into healthy mice.

Within 9 months, the healthy mice were showing signs of cognitive decline, as well as changes to their brain chemistry. They showed an accumulation of amyloid plaques that are the classic hallmarks of Alzheimer’s.

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Scientists conclude that first of all, Alzheimer’s seems to be able to arise from stem cells outside the nervous system.

“One of the potential outcomes of this study is to spur the field to move away from the conventional central dogma of AD pathology, which states that the accumulation of brain-derived amyloid, specifically produced by neurons, is the cause of the disease. This study demonstrates the contribution of amyloid, generated outside the brain, in establishing the disease.”

They also took away that this pathway to developing AD could be similar to how prion brain diseases are transmitted.

ie: people eating cows with Mad Cow Disease developing Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

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This would, of course, mean that blood donations would have to be much more extensively screened, says immunologist and study author Wilfred Jeffries.

“This supports the idea that Alzheimer’s is a systemic disease where amyloids that are expressed outside of the brain contribute to central nervous system pathology. As we continue to explore this mechanism, Alzheimer’s disease may be the tip of the iceberg and we need to have far better controls and screening of the donors used in blood, organ, and tissue transplants we well as in the transfers of human-derived stem cells or blood products.

It’s all very daunting.

But, if it’s possible to stop people from getting the disease to begin with, that’s obviously the best possible scenario.

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