Send to

Choose Destination
Ann Neurol. 2004 Jun;55(6):781-92.

Scrapie-specific neuronal lesions are independent of neuronal PrP expression.

Author information

Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Lasswade Laboratory, Pentlands Science Park, Penicuik, Midlothian, Scotland.


In the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE), accumulation of the abnormal disease-specific prion protein is associated with neurodegeneration. Previous data suggested that abnormal prion protein (PrP) could induce neuronal pathology only when neurons expressed the normal form of PrP, but conflicting evidence also has been reported. Understanding whether neuronal PrP expression is required for TSE neuropathological damage in vivo is essential for determining the mechanism of TSE pathogenesis. Therefore, these experiments were designed to study scrapie pathogenesis in vivo in the absence of neuronal PrP expression. Hamster scrapie (strain 263K) was used to infect transgenic mice expressing hamster PrP in the brain only in astrocytes. These mice previously were shown to develop clinical scrapie, but it was unclear whether the brain pathology was caused by damage to astrocytes, neurons, or other cell types. In this electron microscopic study, neurons demonstrated TSE-specific pathology despite lacking PrP expression. Abnormal PrP was identified around astrocytes, primarily in the extracellular spaces of the neuropil, but astrocytes showed only reactive changes and no damage. Therefore, in this model the pathogenesis of the disease appeared to involve neuronal damage associated with extracellular astrocytic accumulation of abnormal PrP acting upon nearby PrP-negative neurons or triggering the release of non-PrP neurotoxic factors from astrocytes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center