Follicular dendritic cell dedifferentiation by treatment with an inhibitor of the lymphotoxin pathway dramatically reduces scrapie susceptibility

Neil Mabbott, J. Young, I. McConnell, Moira Bruce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) may be acquired peripherally, in which case infectivity usually accumulates in lymphoid tissues before dissemination to the nervous system. Studies of mouse scrapie models have shown that mature follicular dendritic cells (FDCs), expressing the host prion protein (PrP(c)), are critical for replication of infection in lymphoid tissues and subsequent neuroinvasion. Since FDCs require lymphotoxin signals from B lymphocytes to maintain their differentiated state, blockade of this stimulation with a lymphotoxin beta receptor-immunoglobulin fusion protein (LT beta R-Ig) leads to their temporary dedifferentiation. Here, a single treatment with LT beta R-Ig before intraperitoneal scrapie inoculation blocked the early accumulation of infectivity and disease-specific PrP (PrP(Sc)) within the spleen and substantially reduced disease susceptibility. These effects coincided with an absence of FDCs in the spleen for ca. 28 days after treatment. Although the period of FDC dedifferentiation was extended to at least 49 days by consecutive LT beta R-Ig treatments, this had little added protective benefit after injection with a moderate dose of scrapie. We also demonstrate that mature FDCs are critical for the transmission of scrapie from the gastrointestinal tract. Treatment with LT beta R-Ig before oral scrapie inoculation blocked PrP(Sc) accumulation in Peyer's patches and mesenteric lymph nodes and prevented neuroinvasion. However, treatment 14 days after oral inoculation did not affect survival time or susceptibility, suggesting that infectivity may have already spread to the peripheral nervous system. Although manipulation of FDCs may offer a potential approach for early intervention in peripherally acquired TSEs, these data suggest that the duration of the treatment window may vary widely depending on the route of exposure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6845-54
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2003

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation/drug effects
  • Dendritic Cells, Follicular/cytology
  • Dendritic Cells, Follicular/drug effects
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lymphoid Tissue/metabolism
  • Lymphotoxin beta Receptor
  • Lymphotoxin-alpha/antagonists & inhibitors
  • Lymphotoxin-beta
  • Membrane Proteins/antagonists & inhibitors
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Peyer's Patches/metabolism
  • PrPSc Proteins/biosynthesis
  • PrPSc Proteins/pathogenicity
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Scrapie/drug therapy
  • Scrapie/physiopathology
  • Spleen/metabolism


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