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Microb Pathog. 1987 Jun;2(6):435-42.

The molecular pathogenesis of astrogliosis in scrapie and Alzheimer's disease.

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University of Minnesota, Department of Microbiology, Minneapolis 55455-0312.


In slow infections caused by scrapie and other unconventional agents, and in Alzheimer's disease (AD), the formation of neuritic plaques and the increase in astrocytes and astrocyte-specific protein, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), are pathological changes common to both conditions. With the rationale that these parallels imply convergent pathogenetic mechanisms, we identified a gene whose expression increases in both. We now report the results of a more extensive analysis of this gene and show that by sequence analysis it is highly homologous and likely identical to GFAP. GFAP mRNA accumulates late in the course of scrapie in subpial and periventricular astrocytes and in cells in foci in the hippocampus. The increased abundance of GFAP mRNA is accompanied by an increase in the corresponding protein. GFAP mRNA is localized by in situ hybridization to the cell body and processes of astrocytes. In AD, the latter pattern predominates, consistent with induction of GFAP mRNA in the sites of synthesis in glial processes in the neuritic plaque.

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