New study suggests spontaneous brain hemorrhage may be transmitted through blood transfusion

(ORDO NEWS) — A recent study conducted by specialists at the Karolinska Institutet has shed light on the possibility of spontaneous cerebral hemorrhage being transmitted through blood transfusion. However, the study also emphasizes that the likelihood of brain hemorrhage after a blood transfusion is extremely low.

The study focuses on cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA), a vascular disease characterized by the accumulation of proteins in the small blood vessels of the brain. Previous studies have shown that CAA can be transmitted from one person to another during neurosurgery and possibly during treatment with specific growth hormones.

Research results

The study, led by scientists from the Karolinska Institutet, Södersjukhuset, Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden, the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, KU Leuven in Belgium and other institutions, found that patients who received blood from donors who subsequently suffered recurrent brain hemorrhages are more than twice as likely to suffer a cerebral hemorrhage themselves.

The findings suggest that some factors that contribute to spontaneous cerebral hemorrhage may be transmitted through blood transfusions. However, due to the small number of donors who experienced recurrent cerebral hemorrhages (0.1%), the number of patients affected was relatively small.

Health problems

The study highlights that while blood transfusions are common, the risk of brain hemorrhage from transfusion is extremely unlikely. However, the potential negative consequences of blood transfusion remain an important public health concern.

Transmission of CAA

One of the important implications of this study is the confirmation of the hypothesis that CAA can be transmitted from person to person. If this hypothesis is correct, then it could have a wide variety of consequences in different areas.

Data analysis

The researchers used the Swedish-Danish blood transfusion database SCANDAT, which contains information on blood donors and transfusion patients since the 1970s. The study included data from more than a million patients. The primary analysis was conducted in Sweden and then repeated using Danish data, yielding nearly identical results.

Further research

To confirm the link between cerebral hemorrhage and blood transfusion in relation to SAA, the researchers plan to study samples from the Danish Blood Donor Study biobank. They hope to identify abnormal proteins associated with the disease.

In addition, the researchers intend to obtain CT scans and magnetic resonance imaging scans from both affected donors and patients to gather further evidence for their hypothesis.

Causality and Future Research

It is important to note that this study does not establish causation. Other factors may also contribute to the observed increase in risk. Therefore, further studies are needed to confirm the findings and better understand the possible underlying mechanisms.

Expert opinion

Dr. Gustaf Edgren, researcher at the Department of Medicine at the Karolinska Institutet (Solna) and medical specialist at the Södersjukhuset Clinic, emphasizes the importance of this study in addressing the possible negative consequences of blood transfusions. He says: “Blood transfusions are a relatively common occurrence, which makes possible negative consequences an important public health issue. However, in this case, it is very unlikely that the brain hemorrhage could be caused by something transmitted through a blood transfusion.”

“Additional research is needed to confirm our findings and understand the possible underlying mechanism.” – Jingcheng Zhao, first author of the study from Dr. Edgren’s group at Karolinska Institutet.


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