2007-12-01Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.1099/vir.0.83187-0
Prion propagation in a nerve conduit model containing segments devoid of axons
Prions, the putative causative agents of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, are neurotropic pathogens that spread to the central nervous system via synaptically linked neural conduits upon peripheral infection. Axons and their transport processes have been suggested as mediators of nerve-associated prion dissemination. However, the exact cellular components and molecular mechanisms underlying neural spread are unknown. This study used an established hamster scrapie model to pursue a novel experimental approach using nerve conduits containing segments devoid of neurites generated by incomplete nerve regeneration following Wallerian degeneration to probe the necessity of axons for the neural propagation of prions. For this purpose, animals were subjected to unilateral sciatic neurectomy 4 weeks before footpad inoculation with scrapie agent. The results showed that the regional nerve is the prime conduit for cerebral neuroinvasion and revealed, as evidenced by the accumulation of pathological prion protein PrP TSE, that prions can proceed along segments of peripheral neural projections without detectable axonal structures.
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