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Infect Immun. 1982 Oct;38(1):316-24.

Heterogeneic autoantibody against neurofilament protein in the sera of animals with experimental kuru and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and natural scrapie infection.


Heterogeneic autoantibodies against axonal neurofilament proteins of mature mouse neurons grown in vitro were detected by the indirect immunofluorescence technique in 12.7% (9 of 71) of the sera from nonhuman primates infected with kuru, in 14.5% (17 of 117) and 4% (1 of 25), respectively, of the sera from nonhuman primates and laboratory rodents infected with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and in 35% (7 of 20) of the sera from sheep naturally infected with scrapie. Autoantibody titers ranged from 1:16 to 1:512 in Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease-infected animals, 1:32 to 1:512 in kuru-infected animals, and 1:64 to 1:1,024 in sheep with natural scrapie. The sera from 11 monkeys and 17 hamsters infected with scrapie and from 19 chimpanzees inoculated with brain tissues from humans with other neurological diseases did not contain autoantibodies. Of the 41 chimpanzees with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, 6 had autoantibodies against neurofilament proteins before experimental inoculation, whereas 6 others developed autoantibodies after inoculation, 4 developed autoantibodies during the asymptomatic phase, and 2 developed autoantibodies during the terminal clinical phase. Of the 48 chimpanzees with kuru, 2 had autoantibodies before inoculation, 6 developed autoantibodies after inoculation, 3 developed autoantibodies during the asymptomatic phase, and 3 developed autoantibodies during the terminal clinical phase. Among the normal nonhuman primate controls, 4.6% (9 of 195) had autoantibodies. In contrast, no autoantibodies were detected in 49 control rodents and 13 control sheep. The increased incidence of autoantibodies against neurofilament proteins in animals with kuru, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and scrapie constitutes the first evidence of an immunological reaction in this group of atypical infections caused by unconventional viruses and suggests that neurofilaments may be involved in pathogenesis.

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