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BMC Vet Res. 2013 Apr 19;9:82. doi: 10.1186/1746-6148-9-82.

Accumulation profiles of PrP(Sc) in hemal nodes of naturally and experimentally scrapie-infected sheep.

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  • 1Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-7040, USA. rohana1@vetmed.wsu.edu



In classical scrapie, the disease-associated abnormal isoform (PrP(Sc)) of normal prion protein accumulates principally in the nervous system and lymphoid tissues of small ruminants. Lymph nodes traffic leukocytes via lymphatic and blood vasculatures but hemal nodes lack lymphatic vessels and thus traffic leukocytes only via the blood. Although PrP(Sc) accumulation profiles are well-characterized in ovine lymphoid tissues, there is limited information on such profiles in hemal nodes. Therefore, the objective of this study was to compare the follicular accumulation of PrP(Sc) within hemal nodes and lymph nodes by prion epitope mapping and western blot studies.


Our studies found that PrP(Sc) accumulation in 82% of animals' abdominal hemal nodes when PrP(Sc) is detected in both mesenteric and retropharyngeal lymph nodes collected from preclinical and clinical, naturally and experimentally (blood transfusion) scrapie-infected sheep representing all three major scrapie-susceptible Prnp genotypes. Abdominal hemal nodes and retropharyngeal lymph nodes were then used to analyze immune cell phenotypes and PrP(Sc) epitope mapping by immunohistochemistry and PrP(Sc) banding patterns by western blot. Similar patterns of PrP(Sc) accumulation were detected within the secondary follicles of hemal nodes and retropharyngeal lymph nodes, where cellular labeling was mostly associated with macrophages and follicular dendritic cells. The pattern of PrP(Sc) accumulation within hemal nodes and retropharyngeal lymph nodes also did not differ with respect to epitope mapping with seven mAbs (N-terminus, n = 4; globular domain, n = 2; C-terminus, n = 1) in all three Prnp genotypes. Western blot analysis of hemal node and retropharyngeal lymph node homogenates revealed identical three banding patterns of proteinase K resistant PrP(Sc).


Despite the anatomical difference in leukocyte trafficking between lymph nodes and hemal nodes, the follicles of hemal nodes appear to process PrP(Sc) similarly to lymph nodes.

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