Amyloid-β ‘seeds’ in old vials of growth hormone

Recent study suggests that some samples of human growth hormone used as therapy until the mid-1980s contain amyloid-β peptide and cause genetically modified mice to develop amyloid-β deposits in the brain.

In cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA) and Alzheimer’s disease, insoluble aggregates of a peptide known as amyloid-β (Aβ) progressively build up in the spaces between cells, forming amyloid deposits. In Alzheimer’s disease, these aggregates are found between neurons, whereas in CAA, a related but not always coexisting condition, they are found in the walls of brain blood vessels.

Aβ aggregates are thought to be early drivers of the pathological processes of CAA and Alzheimer’s disease that culminate in neurodegeneration. In 2015, researchers reported evidence of early Aβ pathology in the brains of some people with growth deficiency who had been treated with human growth hormone collected from pituitary glands at autopsy. This finding raised the possibility that Aβ pathology might be transmissible between humans under certain conditions through contaminated brain-tissue derivatives. Writing in Nature, Purro et al. provide further support for this hypothesis.

Source: Nature | 13 december 2018

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