Research News

Research success: Alzheimer's disease is not transmissible

Monday, 01-08-2022

Researchers from Lübeck, in collaboration with researchers from Oslo, refute the previous theory on the transmissibility of Alzheimer's disease.

For the first time, they can trace the path of Alzheimer's protein in the body. The findings are particularly relieving for relatives and caregivers of sufferers, as Alzheimer's disease is not considered transmissible on the basis of these new research findings.

The research group of Prof. Jens Pahnke at the Lübeck Institute of Experimental Dermatology (LIED) at the University of Lübeck and at the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein in Lübeck, as well as at the University of Oslo, has disproved the previous theory on the transmissibility of Alzheimer's disease after 6 years of research by the international research consortium PROP-AD. Their work was published in the prestigious journal EMBOreports.

For several years, there had been debate about whether Alzheimer's disease was also a transmissible prion disease and thus could be dangerous to caregivers or family members. Prions are naturally occurring proteins in the body that can clump together due to a pathologically altered structure and deposit in the brain, for example, where they lead to sponge-like damage. Other examples of prion diseases are BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) in cows or CJD (Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease) in humans, which made many headlines a few years ago.

To test whether disease-causing Alzheimer's protein (beta-amyloid) is transmissible from human to human, the team used beta-amyloid with specially labeled carbon atoms. The researchers injected the labeled beta-amyloid from mice suffering from Alzheimer's disease into healthy animals and tracked the molecule's path through the body and deposition in various organs. Using novel, highly sensitive and highly specific measurement methods, the research team succeeded in proving that the toxic beta-amyloid from the diseased animals does not reach the brain of the healthy animals.

This is very good news for relatives and caregivers. According to the results, Alzheimer's disease can thus not be transmitted during the care of patients.

Link to original publication:

Website of the research laboratory:

Scientific contact:

Prof. Dr. med. Dr. rer. nat. Jens Pahnke, Lübeck Institute for Experimental Dermatology, University of Lübeck, Ratzeburger Allee 160, 23538 Lübeck, Email:

Institutt for klinisk medisin, Institutt for patologi, Seksjon for nevropatologi, Universitetet i Oslo, Sognsvannsnveien 20, Universitetet i Oslo, 0318 Oslo, Email:

Prof. Jens Pahnke (Photo: Ola Gamst Sæther, UiO)