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Schweiz Arch Tierheilkd. 2002 Dec;144(12):633-8.

[Prions as the driving force in transmissible spongiform encephalopathies].

[Article in German]

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Institut für Neuropathologie, Universität Zürich, nationales Referenzzentrum für menschliche Prion-Erkrankungen, Zürich.


Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies are degenerative disorders affecting the central nervous system (CNS) occurring in a variety of species. The causative agent is thought to be composed of an abnormal form of the host encoded prion protein (PrPC), termed PrPSc. The conformational change of PrPC into PrPSc can occur spontaneously, however, it can also be induced by PrPSc. Prion diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), scrapie and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob-Disease (vCJD) are most likely caused by peripheral uptake of prions. The process by which prions proceed to the CNS following peripheral uptake is referred to as neuroinvasion. Infection with prions is thought to occur in two phases: After ingestion prions first replicate in lymphatic tissue and then gain access to the CNS via peripheral nerves. Studies looking at the biochemical and clinical characteristics of BSE and vCJD demonstrated that BSE is most likely responsible for vCJD in humans.

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