Rare Cases of Alzheimer’s Transmission Through Historic Growth Hormone Treatment

In a groundbreaking revelation, a recent study published in Nature Medicine explores rare cases of Alzheimer’s disease transmission linked to growth hormone treatments administered decades ago. The study sheds light on a potential connection between past medical procedures and the onset of early-onset dementia in recipients.


This article delves into the study’s findings, discussing the implications for disease mechanisms and urging a reevaluation of medical procedures to prevent similar transmissions in the future.

Understanding the Study:

The study, conducted by researchers from the University College London and the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, suggests a potential link between Alzheimer’s disease and growth hormone treatments received in childhood. The study focuses on individuals who, as children, were treated with human growth hormone derived from cadaver pituitary glands between 1959 and 1985.

Unraveling the Connection:

The research provides the first reported evidence of medically acquired Alzheimer’s disease in living individuals. It suggests that repeated exposure to growth hormone treatments contaminated with prions and amyloid beta seeds may have contributed to the transmission of Alzheimer’s disease. Although Alzheimer’s is not traditionally considered a prion disease, the study draws parallels with prion diseases like Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Key Findings:

  • Five adults with a history of growth hormone deficiency and cadaver-derived hormone treatments developed early-onset dementia symptoms.
  • The study suggests a potential link between the contamination of growth hormone treatments and the abnormal buildup of amyloid beta protein, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • While emphasizing the rarity of such cases, researchers recommend a review of medical procedures to prevent similar transmissions.

Expert Insights:

Notable experts, including Dr. John Collinge and Dr. Richard Isaacson, weigh in on the study’s significance. Dr. Isaacson emphasizes that the public has nothing to fear due to discontinued treatments but underscores the importance of sterilization in medical practices.

Implications for Future Research:

The article explores how these findings prompt new scientific questions and considerations for therapeutic approaches to Alzheimer’s disease. It discusses potential implications for understanding the role of amyloid beta in disease development.


While highlighting the rarity of Alzheimer’s transmission through growth hormone treatments, this article underscores the importance of continuous research, medical vigilance, and preventive measures to safeguard against potential disease transmissions in medical procedures.

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