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Title: Evidence for sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease being an acquired disease
Author: Urwin, Patrick James Michael
ISNI:       0000 0004 7969 1333
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2019
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Sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (sCJD) is the most common form of human prion disease. It is a rapidly progressive dementia with other associated neurological abnormalities which is invariably fatal, usually within 4-6 months of first symptoms, and affects around 80-100 patients in the UK each year. It is caused by propagation around the central nervous system of PrPSc, an abnormal conformational form of the host PrPC protein, which causes the transformation of PrPC to PrPSc, essentially self-replicating. This process causes neuronal loss and other pathological abnormalities, explaining the clinical presentation. sCJD is believed to occur as a de novo convolutional change which seems to occur as an unfortunate chance event. The existence of other forms of CJD, including variant CJD (vCJD) and iatrogenic CJD (iCJD) highlight the fact that the abnormally folded forms of the prion protein are infective agents, which can be transmitted by diet (from bovine spongiform encephalopathy - BSE - in cattle to humans in vCJD), or by medical intervention (predominantly from contaminated dura mater grafts, and cadaveric pituitary derived growth hormone in iCJD). These two routes of transmission can be associated with long intervals (up to around 40 years has been described) between exposure to the infective agent and subsequent symptom onset. It is possible that some cases classified as sCJD may in fact be acquired through other means of transmission. As part of the UK National CJD Surveillance process, the NCJDRSU collect data on potential routes of CJD transmission. In this thesis, I describe and analyse the data concerning three potential such routes for the definite or probable cases of sCJD reviewed by the NCJDRSU between 2010 and 2015 inclusive: 1) Packed red cell blood transfusion has been associated with iatrogenic transmission of variant CJD. We found no evidence of such transmission in sporadic CJD. I also describe the first two reported cases of sCJD occurring in patients with clotting disorders who had received numerous transfusions and other blood products; there have been no further published cases since this report, and these two cases are considered likely both to represent the chance development of sCJD. 2) Tissue and organ transplantation is another recognised route, with iatrogenic transmission of CJD described in corneal transplantation. A small number of sCJD patients have undergone surgery involving transplantation of tissues or organs. Although a few cases of interest were identified as recipients of potentially infective materials, including three patients who are suspected to have received dura mater grafts and one patient who underwent definite corneal transplantation, it was not possible to confirm the exact nature and source of these materials, meaning it is not certain that these cases definitely represent iatrogenic transmission. Therefore, I found no evidence that tissue or organ transplantation is responsible for the development of cases of iCJD among this patient cohort. 3) Other surgical procedures may convey the risk of transmission of PrPSc through incomplete sterilisation of instruments. I assessed the potential for UK sCJD patients to have come into contact with instruments used on another CJD patient, looking at associations between surgical procedures occurring within the same year, at the same hospital, and within the same surgical domain. While some such associations were identified, interpreting these associations is extremely difficult, in large part due to the absence of a suitable control group, as well as incomplete data availability. Overall, this work has identified no definite transmission of iCJD masquerading among the sCJD 2010-2015 patient cohort. There are significant limitations to each aspect of this work, in large part pertaining to incomplete medical records; these limitations are addressed in the relevant chapters. Some of these limitations may be difficult to overcome if future these studies are repeated in the future with a new cohort.
Supervisor: Knight, Richard ; Molesworth, Anna Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (M.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease ; Sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease ; iatrogenic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease