Neurology Central

Is amyloid-beta transmissible?

A new study led by researchers at University College London (UCL; London, UK) suggests that amyloid-beta deposits may have been transmitted via contaminated instruments during neurosurgery.

The study, published in Acta Neuropathologica details how researchers evaluated the medical records of four individuals who had suffered intracranial bleeds due to amyloid-beta build up in blood vessels of the brain.

The team discovered that the individuals had undergone neurosurgery decades earlier as children or teenagers, raising the question of whether amyloid-beta may have been transmitted during these operations, similarly to how prion transmission has been implicated in the development of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Click here to read our expert panel column on the transmissibility of Alzheimer’s disease via prion contamination

Interestingly, given the levels of amyloid-beta observed, the patients did not exhibit any signs of Alzheimer’s disease, the primary disease for which the protein build-up is characteristic.

Cerebral amyloid angiopathy in biopsy and autopsy tissue of the four patients studied (Credit: Z Jaunmuktane et al)

Further analysis of a group of 50 similarly aged individuals from the same medical archives revealed no evidence of amyloid-beta pathology, and only three patients with a history of neurosurgery in childhood.

The study was limited by the small sample sizes examined, hence further research is essential in order to determine the real risk of beta-amyloid transmission during surgery.

Sources: Jaunmuktane Z, Quaegbeur A and Taipa R et al. Evidence of amyloid-β cerebral amyloid angiopathy transmission through neurosurgery. Acta Neuropathol. doi:10.1007/s00401-018-1822-2 (2018) (Epub ahead of print);