37 research outputs found

    Faecal shedding, alimentary clearance and intestinal spread of prions in hamsters fed with scrapie

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    Shedding of prions via faeces may be involved in the transmission of contagious prion diseases. Here, we fed hamsters 10 mg of 263K scrapie brain homogenate and examined the faecal excretion of disease-associated prion protein (PrPTSE) during the course of infection. The intestinal fate of ingested PrPTSE was further investigated by monitoring the deposition of the protein in components of the gut wall using immunohistochemistry and paraffin-embedded tissue (PET) blotting. Western blotting of faecal extracts showed shedding of PrPTSE in the excrement at 24–72 h post infection (hpi), but not at 0–24 hpi or at later preclinical or clinical time points. About 5% of the ingested PrPTSE were excreted via the faeces. However, the bulk of PrPTSE was cleared from the alimentary canal, most probably by degradation, while an indiscernible proportion of the inoculum triggered intestinal infection. Components of the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) and the enteric nervous system (ENS) showed progressing accumulation of PrPTSE from 30 days post infection (dpi) and 60 dpi, respectively. At the clinical stage of disease, substantial deposits of PrPTSE were found in the GALT in close vicinity to the intestinal lumen. Despite an apparent possibility of shedding from Peyer’s patches that may involve the follicle-associated epithelium (FAE), only small amounts of PrPTSE were detected in faeces from clinically infected animals by serial protein misfolding cyclic amplification (sPMCA). Although excrement may thus provide a vehicle for the release of endogenously formed PrPTSE, intestinal clearance mechanisms seem to partially counteract such a mode of prion dissemination

    Cellular localization of the potassium channel Kir7.1 in guinea pig and human kidney

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    Cellular localization of the potassium channel Kir7.1 in guinea pig and human kidney.BackgroundK+ channels have important functions in the kidney, such as maintenance of the membrane potential, volume regulation, recirculation, and secretion of potassium ions. The aim of this study was to obtain more information on the localization and possible functional role of the inwardly rectifying K+ channel, Kir7.1.MethodsKir7.1 cDNA (1114 bp) was isolated from guinea pig kidney (gpKir7.1), and its tissue distribution was analyzed by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). In addition, a genomic DNA fragment (6153 bp) was isolated from a genomic library. cRNA was expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes for functional studies. Immunohistochemistry and RT-PCR were used to localize Kir7.1 in guinea pig and human kidney.ResultsThe expression of gpKir7.1 in Xenopus laevis oocytes revealed inwardly rectifying K+ currents. The reversal potential was strongly dependent on the extracellular K+ concentration, shifting from -14 mV at 96 mmol/L K+ to -90 mV at 1 mmol/L K+. gpKir7.1 showed a low affinity for Ba2+. Significant expression of gpKir7.1 was found in brain, kidney, and lung, but not in heart, skeletal muscle, liver, or spleen. Immunocytochemical detection in guinea pig identified the gpKir7.1 protein in the basolateral membrane of epithelial cells of the proximal tubule. RT-PCR analysis identified strong gpKir7.1 expression in the proximal tubule and weak expression in glomeruli and thick ascending limb. In isolated human tubule fragments, RT-PCR showed expression in proximal tubule and thick ascending limb.ConclusionOur results suggest that Kir7.1 may contribute to basolateral K+ recycling in the proximal tubule and in the thick ascending limb

    Presence and Seeding Activity of Pathological Prion Protein (PrPTSE) in Skeletal Muscles of White-Tailed Deer Infected with Chronic Wasting Disease

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    Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a contagious, rapidly spreading transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE), or prion disease, occurring in cervids such as white tailed-deer (WTD), mule deer or elk in North America. Despite efficient horizontal transmission of CWD among cervids natural transmission of the disease to other species has not yet been observed. Here, we report for the first time a direct biochemical demonstration of pathological prion protein PrPTSE and of PrPTSE-associated seeding activity, the static and dynamic biochemical markers for biological prion infectivity, respectively, in skeletal muscles of CWD-infected cervids, i. e. WTD for which no clinical signs of CWD had been recognized. The presence of PrPTSE was detected by Western- and postfixed frozen tissue blotting, while the seeding activity of PrPTSE was revealed by protein misfolding cyclic amplification (PMCA). Semi-quantitative Western blotting indicated that the concentration of PrPTSE in skeletal muscles of CWD-infected WTD was approximately 2000-10000 -fold lower than in brain tissue. Tissue-blot-analyses revealed that PrPTSE was located in muscle-associated nerve fascicles but not, in detectable amounts, in myocytes. The presence and seeding activity of PrPTSE in skeletal muscle from CWD-infected cervids suggests prevention of such tissue in the human diet as a precautionary measure for food safety, pending on further clarification of whether CWD may be transmissible to humans

    Quantitative Detection and Biological Propagation of Scrapie Seeding Activity In Vitro Facilitate Use of Prions as Model Pathogens for Disinfection

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    Prions are pathogens with an unusually high tolerance to inactivation and constitute a complex challenge to the re-processing of surgical instruments. On the other hand, however, they provide an informative paradigm which has been exploited successfully for the development of novel broad-range disinfectants simultaneously active also against bacteria, viruses and fungi. Here we report on the development of a methodological platform that further facilitates the use of scrapie prions as model pathogens for disinfection. We used specifically adapted serial protein misfolding cyclic amplification (PMCA) for the quantitative detection, on steel wires providing model carriers for decontamination, of 263K scrapie seeding activity converting normal protease-sensitive into abnormal protease-resistant prion protein. Reference steel wires carrying defined amounts of scrapie infectivity were used for assay calibration, while scrapie-contaminated test steel wires were subjected to fifteen different procedures for disinfection that yielded scrapie titre reductions of ≤101- to ≥105.5-fold. As confirmed by titration in hamsters the residual scrapie infectivity on test wires could be reliably deduced for all examined disinfection procedures, from our quantitative seeding activity assay. Furthermore, we found that scrapie seeding activity present in 263K hamster brain homogenate or multiplied by PMCA of scrapie-contaminated steel wires both triggered accumulation of protease-resistant prion protein and was further propagated in a novel cell assay for 263K scrapie prions, i.e., cerebral glial cell cultures from hamsters. The findings from our PMCA- and glial cell culture assays revealed scrapie seeding activity as a biochemically and biologically replicative principle in vitro, with the former being quantitatively linked to prion infectivity detected on steel wires in vivo. When combined, our in vitro assays provide an alternative to titrations of biological scrapie infectivity in animals that substantially facilitates the use of prions as potentially highly indicative test agents in the search for novel broad-range disinfectants

    Is there a risk of prion-like disease transmission by Alzheimer- or Parkinson-associated protein particles?

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    The misfolding and aggregation of endogenous proteins in the central nervous system is a neuropathological hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD), as well as prion diseases. A molecular mechanism referred to as “nucleation-dependent aggregation” is thought to underlie this neuropathological phenomenon. According to this concept, disease-associated protein particles act as nuclei, or seeds, that recruit cellular proteins and incorporate them, in a misfolded form, into their growing aggregate structure. Experimental studies have shown that the aggregation of the AD-associated proteins amyloid-β (Aβ) and tau, and of the PD-associated protein α-synuclein, can be stimulated in laboratory animal models by intracerebral (i.c.) injection of inocula containing aggregated species of the respective proteins. This has raised the question of whether AD or PD can be transmitted, like certain human prion diseases, between individuals by self-propagating protein particles potentially present on medical instruments or in blood or blood products. While the i.c. injection of inocula containing AD- or PD-associated protein aggregates was found to cause neuronal damage and clinical abnormalities (e.g., motor impairments) in some animal models, none of the studies published so far provided evidence for a transmission of severe or even fatal disease. In addition, available epidemiological data do not indicate a transmissibility of AD or PD between humans. The findings published so far on the effects of experimentally transmitted AD- or PD-associated protein seeds do not suggest specific precautionary measures in the context of hemotherapy, but call for vigilance in transfusion medicine and other medical areas

    Towards further reduction and replacement of animal bioassays in prion research by cell and protein misfolding cyclic amplification assays

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    Laboratory animals have long since been used extensively in bioassays for prions in order to quantify, usually in terms of median infective doses [ID50], how infectious these pathogens are in vivo. The identification of aberrant prion protein as the main component and self-replicating principle of prions has given rise to alternative approaches for prion titration. Such approaches often use protein misfolding cyclic amplification (PMCA) for the cell-free biochemical measurement of prion-associated seeding activity, or cell assays for the titration of in vitro infectivity. However, median seeding and cell culture infective doses (SD50 and CCID50, respectively) of prions are neither formally congruent nor definitely representative for ID50 titres in animals and can be therefore only tentatively translated into the latter. This may potentially impede the acceptance and use of alternative methods to animal bioassays in prion research. Thus, we suggest performing PMCA and cell assays jointly, and to check whether these profoundly different test principles deliver consistent results in order to strengthen the reliability and credibility of prion ID50 assessments by in vitro methods. With regard to this rationale, we describe three pairs of PMCA and glial cell assays for different hamster-adapted prion agents (the frequently used 263K scrapie strain, and 22A-H scrapie and BSE-H). In addition, we report on the adaptation of quantitative PMCA to human variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) prions on steel wires for prion disinfection studies. Our rationale and methodology can be systematically extended to other types of prions and used to further reduce or replace prion bioassays in rodents

    Scrapie Agent (Strain 263K) Can Transmit Disease via the Oral Route after Persistence in Soil over Years

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    The persistence of infectious biomolecules in soil constitutes a substantial challenge. This holds particularly true with respect to prions, the causative agents of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) such as scrapie, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or chronic wasting disease (CWD). Various studies have indicated that prions are able to persist in soil for years without losing their pathogenic activity. Dissemination of prions into the environment can occur from several sources, e.g., infectious placenta or amniotic fluid of sheep. Furthermore, environmental contamination by saliva, excrements or non-sterilized agricultural organic fertilizer is conceivable. Natural transmission of scrapie in the field seems to occur via the alimentary tract in the majority of cases, and scrapie-free sheep flocks can become infected on pastures where outbreaks of scrapie had been observed before. These findings point to a sustained contagion in the environment, and notably the soil. By using outdoor lysimeters, we simulated a contamination of standard soil with hamster-adapted 263K scrapie prions, and analyzed the presence and biological activity of the soil-associated PrPSc and infectivity by Western blotting and hamster bioassay, respectively. Our results showed that 263K scrapie agent can persist in soil at least over 29 months. Strikingly, not only the contaminated soil itself retained high levels of infectivity, as evidenced by oral administration to Syrian hamsters, but also feeding of aqueous soil extracts was able to induce disease in the reporter animals. We could also demonstrate that PrPSc in soil, extracted after 21 months, provides a catalytically active seed in the protein misfolding cyclic amplification (PMCA) reaction. PMCA opens therefore a perspective for considerably improving the detectability of prions in soil samples from the field

    Accumulation of Pathological Prion Protein PrPSc in the Skin of Animals with Experimental and Natural Scrapie

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    Prion infectivity and its molecular marker, the pathological prion protein PrPSc, accumulate in the central nervous system and often also in lymphoid tissue of animals or humans affected by transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. Recently, PrPSc was found in tissues previously considered not to be invaded by prions (e.g., skeletal muscles). Here, we address the question of whether prions target the skin and show widespread PrPSc deposition in this organ in hamsters perorally or parenterally challenged with scrapie. In hamsters fed with scrapie, PrPSc was detected before the onset of symptoms, but the bulk of skin-associated PrPSc accumulated in the clinical phase. PrPSc was localized in nerve fibres within the skin but not in keratinocytes, and the deposition of PrPSc in skin showed no dependence from the route of infection and lymphotropic dissemination. The data indicated a neurally mediated centrifugal spread of prions to the skin. Furthermore, in a follow-up study, we examined sheep naturally infected with scrapie and detected PrPSc by Western blotting in skin samples from two out of five animals. Our findings point to the skin as a potential reservoir of prions, which should be further investigated in relation to disease transmission
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