Conclusive demonstration of iatrogenic Alzheimer's disease transmission in a model of stem cell transplantation

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The risk of iatrogenic disease is often underestimated as a concern in contemporary medical procedures, encompassing tissue and organ transplantation, stem cell therapies, blood transfusions, and the administration of blood-derived products. In this context, despite the prevailing belief that Alzheimer's disease (AD) manifests primarily in familial and sporadic forms, our investigation reveals an unexpected transplantable variant of AD in a preclinical context, potentially indicating iatrogenic transmission in AD patients. Through adoptive transplantation of donor bone marrow stem cells carrying a mutant human amyloid precursor protein (APP) transgene into either APP-deficient knockout or normal recipient animals, we observed rapid development of AD pathological hallmarks. These pathological features were significantly accelerated and emerged within 6–9 months post transplantation and included compromised blood-brain barrier integrity, heightened cerebral vascular neoangiogenesis, elevated brain-associated β-amyloid levels, and cognitive impairment. Furthermore, our findings underscore the contribution of β-amyloid burden originating outside of the central nervous system to AD pathogenesis within the brain. We conclude that stem cell transplantation from donors harboring a pathogenic mutant allele can effectively transfer central nervous system diseases to healthy recipients, mirroring the pathogenesis observed in the donor. Consequently, our observations advocate for genomic sequencing of donor specimens prior to tissue, organ, or stem cell transplantation therapies, as well as blood transfusions and blood-derived product administration, to mitigate the risk of iatrogenic diseases.




Singh, C. S. B., Johns, K. M., Kari, S., Munro, L., Mathews, A., Fenninger, F., … Jefferies, W. A. (2024). Conclusive demonstration of iatrogenic Alzheimer’s disease transmission in a model of stem cell transplantation. Stem Cell Reports, 19(4), 456–468.

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