Neuroinvasion by scrapie following inoculation via the skin is independent of migratory Langerhans cells

Joanne Mohan, Moira Bruce, Neil Mabbott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Many natural transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) infections are likely to be acquired peripherally, and studies in mice show that skin scarification is an effective means of scrapie transmission. After peripheral exposure, TSE agents usually accumulate in lymphoid tissues before spreading to the brain. The mechanisms of TSE transport to lymphoid tissues are not known. Langerhans cells (LCs) reside in the epidermis and migrate to the draining lymph node after encountering antigen. To investigate the potential role of LCs in scrapie transportation from the skin, we utilized mouse models in which their migration was blocked either due to CD40 ligand deficiency (CD40L-/- mice) or after caspase-1 inhibition. We show that the early accumulation of scrapie infectivity in the draining lymph node and subsequent neuroinvasion was not impaired in mice with blocked LC migration. Thus, LCs are not involved in TSE transport from the skin. After intracerebral inoculation with scrapie, wild-type mice and CD40L-/- mice develop clinical disease with similar incubation periods. However, after inoculation via skin scarification CD40L-/- mice develop disease significantly earlier than do wild-type mice. The shorter incubation period in CD40L-/- mice is unexpected and suggests that a CD40L-dependent mechanism is involved in impeding scrapie pathogenesis. In vitro studies demonstrated that LCs have the potential to acquire and degrade protease-resistant prion protein, which is thought to be a component of the infectious agent. Taken together, these data suggest that LCs are not involved in scrapie transport to draining lymphoid tissues but might have the potential to degrade scrapie in the skin.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1888-97
Number of pages10
JournalJ Virol
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2005

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Animals
  • Brain/metabolism
  • Brain/pathology
  • CD40 Ligand/genetics
  • Caspase Inhibitors
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Langerhans Cells/metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • PrPSc Proteins/pathogenicity
  • Scrapie/pathology
  • Scrapie/physiopathology
  • Skin/metabolism


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