Amyloid-β accumulation in the CNS in human growth hormone recipients in the UK

Diane L. Ritchie, Peter Adlard, Alexander H. Peden, Suzanne Lowrie, Margaret Le Grice, Kimberley Burns, Rosemary J. Jackson, Helen Yull, Michael J. Keogh, Wei Wei, Patrick F. Chinnery, Mark W. Head, James W. Ironside

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Human-to-human transmission of Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD) has occurred through medical procedures resulting in iatrogenic CJD (iCJD). One of the commonest causes of iCJD was the use of human pituitary-derived growth hormone (hGH) to treat primary or secondary growth hormone deficiency. As part of a comprehensive tissue-based analysis of the largest cohort yet collected (35 cases) of UK hGH-iCJD cases, we describe the clinicopathological phenotype of hGH-iCJD in the UK. In the 33/35 hGH-iCJD cases with sufficient paraffin-embedded tissue for full pathological examination, we report the accumulation of the amyloid beta (Aβ) protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in the brains and cerebral blood vessels in 18/33 hGH-iCJD patients and for the first time in 5/12 hGH recipients who died from causes other than CJD. Aβ accumulation was markedly less prevalent in age-matched patients who died from sporadic CJD and variant CJD. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that Aβ, which can accumulate in the pituitary gland, was present in the inoculated hGH preparations and had a seeding effect in the brains of around 50% of all hGH recipients, producing an AD-like neuropathology and cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA), regardless of whether CJD neuropathology had occurred. These findings indicate that Aβ seeding can occur independently and in the absence of the abnormal prion protein in the human brain. Our findings provide further evidence for the prion-like seeding properties of Aβ and give insights into the possibility of iatrogenic transmission of AD and CAA.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221–240
Number of pages20
JournalActa Neuropathologica
Issue number2
Early online date27 Mar 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Mar 2017


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