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J Vis Exp. 2010 Nov 19;(45). pii: 2349. doi: 10.3791/2349.

Monitoring immune cells trafficking fluorescent prion rods hours after intraperitoneal infection.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology, Colorado State University, USA.

Abstract

Presence of an abnormal form a host-encoded prion protein (PrPC) that is protease resistant, pathologic and infectious characterizes prion diseases such as Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) of cervids and scrapie in sheep. The Prion hypothesis asserts that this abnormal conformer constitutes most or all of the infectious prion. The role of the immune system in early events in peripheral prion pathogenesis has been convincingly demonstrated for CWD and scrapie. Transgenic and pharmacologic studies in mice revealed an important role of the Complement system in retaining and replicating prions early after infection. In vitro and in vivo studies have also observed prion retention by dendritic cells, although their role in trafficking remains unclear. Macrophages have similarly been implicated in early prion pathogenesis, but these studies have focused on events occurring weeks after infection. These prior studies also suffer from the problem of differentiating between endogenous PrP(C) and infectious prions. Here we describe a semiquantitative, unbiased approach for assessing prion uptake and trafficking from the inoculation site by immune cells recruited there. Aggregated prion rods were purified from infected brain homogenate by detergent solubilization of non-aggregated proteins and ultracentrifugation through a sucrose cushion. Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, coomassie blue staining and western blotting confirmed recovery of highly enriched prion rods in the pelleted fraction. Prion rods were fluorochrome-labeled then injected intraperitoneally into mice. Two hours later immune cells from peritoneal lavage fluid, spleen and mediastinal and mesenteric lymph nodes were assayed for prion rod retention and cell subsets identified by multicolor flow cytometry using markers for monocytes, neutrophils, dendritic cells, macrophages and B and T cells. This assay allows for the first time direct monitoring of immune cells acquiring and trafficking prions in vivo within hours after infection. This assay also clearly differentiates infectious, aggregated prions from PrPC normally expressed on host cells, which can be difficult and lead to data interpretation problems in other assay systems. This protocol can be adapted to other inoculation routes (oral, intravenous, intranervous and subcutaneous, e.g.) and antigens (conjugated beads, bacterial, viral and parasitic pathogens and proteins, egg) as well.

PMID:
21113122
PMCID:
PMC3159585
DOI:
10.3791/2349
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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