The key molecular event in human cerebral proteinopathies, which include Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases, is the structural conversion of a specific host protein into a β-sheet-rich conformer. With regards to this common mechanism, it appears difficult to explain the outstanding infectious properties attributed to PrPSc, the hallmark of another intriguing family of cerebral proteinopathies known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) or prion diseases. The infectious PrPSc or "prion" is thought to be composed solely of a misfolded form of the otherwise harmless cellular prion protein (PrPc). To gain insight into this unique situation, we used the 263K scrapie hamster model to search for a putative PrPSc-associated factor that contributes to the infectivity of PrPSc amyloid. In a rigorously controlled set of experiments that included several bioassays, we showed that originally innocuous recombinant prion protein (recPrP) equivalent to PrPc is capable of initiating prion disease in hamsters when it is converted to a prion-like conformation (β-sheet-rich) in the presence of RNA purified from scrapie-associated fibril (SAF) preparations. Analysis of the recPrP-RNA infectious mixture reveals the presence of 2 populations of small RNAs of approximately 27 and 55 nucleotides. These unprecedented findings are discussed in light of the distinct relationship that may exist between this RNA material and the 2 biological properties, infectivity and strain features, attributed to prion amyloid.
nature of prions; PMCA; prions; prion infectivity; PrPsc; recombinant PrP; RNA; SAF-derived RNA; scrapie infectivity
We performed a genome-wide association (GWA) study in 434 sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD) patients and 1939 controls from the United Kingdom, Germany and The Netherlands. The findings were replicated in an independent sample of 1109 sCJD and 2264 controls provided by a multinational consortium. From the initial GWA analysis we selected 23 SNPs for further genotyping in 1109 sCJD cases from seven different countries. Five SNPs were significantly associated with sCJD after correction for multiple testing. Subsequently these five SNPs were genotyped in 2264 controls. The pooled analysis, including 1543 sCJD cases and 4203 controls, yielded two genome wide significant results: rs6107516 (p-value=7.62x10-9) a variant tagging the prion protein gene (PRNP); and rs6951643 (p-value=1.66x10-8) tagging the Glutamate Receptor Metabotropic 8 gene (GRM8). Next we analysed the data stratifying by country of origin combining samples from the pooled analysis with genotypes from the 1000 Genomes Project and imputed genotypes from the Rotterdam Study (Total n=12967). The meta-analysis of the results showed that rs6107516 (p-value=3.00x10-8) and rs6951643 (p-value=3.91x10-5) remained as the two most significantly associated SNPs. Rs6951643 is located in an intronic region of GRM8, a gene that was additionally tagged by a cluster of 12 SNPs within our top100 ranked results. GRM8 encodes for mGluR8, a protein which belongs to the metabotropic glutamate receptor family, recently shown to be involved in the transduction of cellular signals triggered by the prion protein. Pathway enrichment analyses performed with both Ingenuity Pathway Analysis and ALIGATOR postulates glutamate receptor signalling as one of the main pathways associated with sCJD. In summary, we have detected GRM8 as a novel, non-PRNP, genome-wide significant marker associated with heightened disease risk, providing additional evidence supporting a role of glutamate receptors in sCJD pathogenesis.
Definite diagnosis of sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease in living patients remains a challenge. A test that detects the specific marker for Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, the prion protein (PrPCJD), by means of real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC) testing of cerebrospinal fluid has a sensitivity of 80 to 90% for the diagnosis of sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease. We have assessed the accuracy of RT-QuIC analysis of nasal brushings from olfactory epithelium in diagnosing sporadic Creutzfeldt– Jakob disease in living patients.
We collected olfactory epithelium brushings and cerebrospinal fluid samples from patients with and patients without sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease and tested them using RT-QuIC, an ultrasensitive, multiwell plate–based fluorescence assay involving PrPCJD-seeded polymerization of recombinant PrP into amyloid fibrils.
The RT-QuIC assays seeded with nasal brushings were positive in 30 of 31 patients with Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (15 of 15 with definite sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, 13 of 14 with probable sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, and 2 of 2 with inherited Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease) but were negative in 43 of 43 patients without Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, indicating a sensitivity of 97% (95% confidence interval [CI], 82 to 100) and specificity of 100% (95% CI, 90 to 100) for the detection of Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease. By comparison, testing of cerebrospinal fluid samples from the same group of patients had a sensitivity of 77% (95% CI, 57 to 89) and a specificity of 100% (95% CI, 90 to 100). Nasal brushings elicited stronger and faster RT-QuIC responses than cerebrospinal fluid (P<0.001 for the between-group comparison of strength of response). Individual brushings contained approximately 105 to 107 prion seeds, at concentrations several logs10 greater than in cerebrospinal fluid.
In this preliminary study, RT-QuIC testing of olfactory epithelium samples obtained from nasal brushings was accurate in diagnosing Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease and indicated substantial prion seeding activity lining the nasal vault. (Funded by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and others.)
Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) or prion diseases are fatal rare neurodegenerative disorders affecting man and animals and caused by a transmissible infectious agent. TSE diseases are characterized by spongiform brain lesions with neuronal loss and the abnormal deposition in the CNS, and to less extent in other tissues, of an insoluble and protease resistant form of the cellular prion protein (PrPC), named PrPTSE. In man, TSE diseases affect usually people over 60 years of age with no evident disease-associated risk factors. In some cases, however, TSE diseases are unequivocally linked to infectious episodes related to the use of prion-contaminated medicines, medical devices, or meat products as in the variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). Clinical signs occur months or years after infection, and during this silent period PrPTSE, the only reliable marker of infection, is not easily measurable in blood or other accessible tissues or body fluids causing public health concerns. To overcome the limit of PrPTSE detection, several highly sensitive assays have been developed, but attempts to apply these techniques to blood of infected hosts have been unsuccessful or not yet validated. An update on the latest advances for the detection of misfolded prion protein in body fluids is provided.
The E200K mutation of the prion protein gene (PRNP) is the most frequent amino acid substitution in genetic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and is the only one responsible for the appearance of clustered cases in the world. In the Israel and Slovakian clusters, age of disease onset was reduced in successive generations but the absence of a clear molecular basis raised the possibility that this event was an observational bias. The aim of the present study was to investigate possible selection biases or confounding factors related to anticipation in E200K CJD patients belonging to a cluster in Southern Italy.
Clinical and demographical data of 41 parent-offspring pairs from 19 pedigrees of the Italian cluster of E200K patients were collected. Age at death of parents was compared with age at death of E200K CJD offspring. Subgroup analyses were performed for controlling possible selection biases, confounding factors, or both.
The mean age at death/last follow-up of the parent generation was 71.4 years while that of CJD offspring was 59.3 years with an estimated anticipation of 12.1 years. When the same analysis was performed including only parents with CJD or carrying the E200K mutation (n = 26), the difference between offspring and parents increased to 14.8 years.
These results show that early age at death occurs in offspring of families carrying the E200K PRNP mutation and that this event is not linked to observational biases. Although molecular or environmental bases for this occurrence remain unsettled, this information is important for improving the accuracy of information to give to mutated carriers.
To date, cerebrospinal fluid analysis, particularly protein 14-3-3 testing, presents an important approach in the identification of Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease cases. However, one special point of criticism of 14-3-3 testing is the specificity in the differential diagnosis of rapid dementia. The constant observation of increased cerebrospinal fluid referrals in the national surveillance centres over the last years raises the concern of declining specificity due to higher number of cerebrospinal fluid tests performed in various neurological conditions. Within the framework of a European Community supported longitudinal multicentre study (‘cerebrospinal fluid markers’) we analysed the spectrum of rapid progressive dementia diagnoses, their potential influence on 14-3-3 specificity as well as results of other dementia markers (tau, phosphorylated tau and amyloid-β1–42) and evaluated the specificity of 14-3-3 in Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease diagnosis for the years 1998–2008. A total of 29 022 cerebrospinal fluid samples were analysed for 14-3-3 protein and other cerebrospinal fluid dementia markers in patients with rapid dementia and suspected Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease in the participating centres. In 10 731 patients a definite diagnosis could be obtained. Protein 14-3-3 specificity was analysed for Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease with respect to increasing cerebrospinal fluid tests per year and spectrum of differential diagnosis. Ring trials were performed to ensure the comparability between centres during the reported time period. Protein 14-3-3 test specificity remained high and stable in the diagnosis of Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease during the observed time period across centres (total specificity 92%; when compared with patients with definite diagnoses only: specificity 90%). However, test specificity varied with respect to differential diagnosis. A high 14-3-3 specificity was obtained in differentiation to other neurodegenerative diseases (95–97%) and non-neurological conditions (91–97%). We observed lower specificity in the differential diagnoses of acute neurological diseases (82–87%). A marked and constant increase in cerebrospinal fluid test referrals per year in all centres did not influence 14-3-3 test specificity and no change in spectrum of differential diagnosis was observed. Cerebrospinal fluid protein 14-3-3 detection remains an important test in the diagnosis of Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease. Due to a loss in specificity in acute neurological events, the interpretation of positive 14-3-3 results needs to be performed in the clinical context. The spectrum of differential diagnosis of rapid progressive dementia varied from neurodegenerative dementias to dementia due to acute neurological conditions such as inflammatory diseases and non-neurological origin.
rapid dementia; Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease; cerebrospinal fluid; 14-3-3; specificity; neurodegeneration; differential diagnosis in dementia
The book on iatrogenic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in humans is almost closed. This form of CJD transmission via medical misadventures was first detected in 1974. Today, only occasional CJD cases with exceptionally long incubation periods still appear. The main sources of the largest outbreaks were tissues from human cadavers with unsuspected CJD that were used for dura mater grafts and growth hormone extracts. A few additional cases resulted from neurosurgical instrument contamination, corneal grafts, gonadotrophic hormone, and secondary infections from blood transfusions. Although the final solution to the problem of iatrogenic CJD is still not available (a laboratory test to identify potential donors who harbor the infectious agent), certain other measures have worked well: applying special sterilization of penetrating surgical instruments, reducing the infectious potential of donor blood and tissue, and excluding donors known to have higher than normal risk for CJD.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease; dura mater; human growth hormone; iatrogenic disease; PRNP codon 129; variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease; prions and related diseases
Intracerebral inoculation of transgenic mice failed to demonstrate prion disease transmission.
Prion diseases are neurodegenerative conditions associated with a misfolded and infectious protein, scrapie prion protein (PrPSc). PrPSc propagate prion diseases within and between species and thus pose risks to public health. Prion infectivity or PrPSc presence has been demonstrated in urine of experimentally infected animals, but there are no recent studies of urine from patients with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). We performed bioassays in transgenic mice expressing human PrP to assess prion infectivity in urine from patients affected by a common subtype of sporadic CJD, sCJDMM1. We tested raw urine and 100-fold concentrated and dialyzed urine and assessed the sensitivity of the bioassay along with the effect of concentration and dialysis on prion infectivity. Intracerebral inoculation of transgenic mice with urine from 3 sCJDMM1 patients failed to demonstrate prion disease transmission, indicating that prion infectivity in urine from sCJDMM1 patients is either not present or is <0.38 infectious units/mL.
prions; prions and related diseases; Creutzfeld-Jakob disease; neurodegenerative diseases; transmissible spongiform encephalopathy; infectivity; urine; TSE
Prion diseases share common features of neurodegenerative disorders, infectious diseases and pathologies linked to misfolded proteins. Whether these aspects are independently and fortuitously present in prion diseases or are somewhat linked together remains unsettled, but the contribution of genomic, proteomic, metabolomic and spectroscopic techniques might give insights into this puzzle, and likely give hope for therapy to patients. Although the prion protein gene (PRNP) governs most of the clinical and pathological features of prion diseases and plays a pivotal role in determining host susceptibility, there are still many uncertainties and unknown risk factors that need to be clarified and identified. Several genes, other than PRNP, have recently been found to be associated with a risk of developing sporadic or variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, but these novel data have been produced in a relatively small number of patients and controls and, therefore, need further confirmation. The same criticism applies to the identification of the over 20 new cerebrospinal fluid or plasma markers of disease. Some of these markers seem related to the massive brain damage that occurs, rather than being specific to prion infection. Nevertheless, genomic and post-genomic approaches have shown that these techniques are very powerful, and the best way to overcome the scantiness of samples would be to encourage strong collaboration between different centers of excellence in prion diseases. In this review, we describe the most recent and outstanding advances offered by genomics and post-genomics analyses in the field of human prion diseases.
Six subtypes of sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease with distinctive clinico-pathological features have been identified largely based on two types of the abnormal prion protein, PrPSc, and the methionine (M)/valine (V) polymorphic codon 129 of the prion protein. The existence of affected subjects showing mixed phenotypic features and concurrent PrPSc types has been reported but with inconsistencies among studies in both results and their interpretation. The issue currently complicates diagnosis and classification of cases and also has implications for disease pathogenesis. To explore the issue in depth, we carried out a systematic regional study in a large series of 225 cases. PrPSc types 1 and 2 concurrence was detected in 35% of cases and was higher in MM than in MV or VV subjects. The deposition of either type 1 or 2, when concurrent, was not random and always characterized by the coexistence of phenotypic features previously described in the pure subtypes. PrPSc type 1 accumulation and related pathology predominated in MM and MV cases, while the type 2 phenotype prevailed in VVs. Neuropathological examination best identified the mixed types 1 and 2 features in MMs and most MVs, and also uniquely revealed the co-occurrence of pathological variants sharing PrPSc type 2. In contrast, molecular typing best detected the concurrent PrPSc types in VV subjects and MV cases with kuru plaques. The present data provide an updated disease classification and are of importance for future epidemiologic and transmission studies aimed to identify etiology and extent of strain variation in sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease.
Prion protein; Brain mapping; Molecular typing; Neurodegeneration; Classification
The 14-3-3 protein test has been shown to support the clinical diagnosis of sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) when associated with an adequate clinical context, and a high differential potential for the diagnosis of sporadic CJD has been attributed to other cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) proteins such as tau protein, S100b and neuron specific enolase (NSE). So far there has been only limited information available about biochemical markers in genetic transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (gTSE), although they represent 10–15% of human TSEs. In this study, we analyzed CSF of 174 patients with gTSEs for 14-3-3 (n = 166), tau protein (n = 78), S100b (n = 46) and NSE (n = 50). Levels of brain-derived proteins in CSF varied in different forms of gTSE. Biomarkers were found positive in the majority of gCJD (81%) and insert gTSE (69%), while they were negative in most cases of fatal familial insomnia (13%) and Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker syndrome (10%). Disease duration and codon 129 genotype influence the findings in a different way than in sporadic CJD.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease; CSF proteins; 14-3-3 protein; Tau
The objective of this study was to describe the diagnostic panorama of human transmissible spongiform encephalopathies across 11 countries.
From data collected for surveillance purposes, we describe annual proportions of deaths due to different human transmissible spongiform encephalopathies in eleven EUROCJD-consortium countries over the period 1993–2002, as well as variations in the use of diagnostic tests. Using logistic models we quantified international differences and changes across time.
In general, pre-mortem use of diagnostic investigations increased with time. International differences in pathological confirmation of sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, stable over time, were evident. Compared to their counterparts, some countries displayed remarkable patterns, such as: 1) the high proportion, increasing with time, of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in the United Kingdom, (OR 607.99 95%CI 84.72–4363.40), and France (OR 18.35, 95%CI 2.20–152.83); 2) high, decreasing proportions of iatrogenic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in France, (OR 5.81 95%CI 4.09–8.24), and the United Kingdom, (OR 1.54 95%CI 1.03–2.30); and, 3) high and stable ratios of genetic forms in Slovakia (OR 21.82 95%CI 12.42–38.33) and Italy (OR 2.12 95%CI 1.69–2.68).
Considerable international variation in aetiological subtypes of human transmissible spongiform encephalopathies was evident over the observation period. With the exception of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and iatrogenic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in France and the United Kingdom, these differences persisted across time.
Scrapie and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) belongs to the group of animal transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). BSE epidemic in the UK and elsewhere in Europe has been linked to the use of bovine meat and bone meals (MBM) in the feeding of cattle. There is concern that pigs, poultry and fish bred for human consumption and fed with infected MBM would eventually develop BSE or carry residual infectivity without disease. Although there has been no evidence of infection in these species, experimental data on the susceptibility to the BSE agent of farm animals other than sheep and cow are limited only to pigs and domestic chicken. In the framework of a EU-granted project we have challenged two species of fish largely used in human food consumption, rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and turbot (Scophthalmus maximus), with a mouse-adapted TSE strain (scrapie 139A), to assess the risk related to oral consumption of TSE contaminated food. In trout, we also checked the "in vitro" ability of the pathological isoform of the mouse prion protein (PrPSc) to cross the intestinal epithelium when added to the mucosal side of everted intestine.
Fish challenged with a large amount of scrapie mouse brain homogenate by either oral or parenteral routes, showed the ability to clear the majority of infectivity load. None of the fish tissues taken at different time points after oral or parenteral inoculation was able to provoke scrapie disease after intracerebral inoculation in recipient mice. However, a few recipient mice were positive for PrPSc and spongiform lesions in the brain. We also showed a specific binding of PrPSc to the mucosal side of fish intestine in the absence of an active uptake of the prion protein through the intestinal wall.
These results indicate that scrapie 139A, and possibly BSE, is quickly removed from fish tissues despite evidence of a prion like protein in fish and of a specific binding of PrPSc to the mucosal side of fish intestine.
Transmission of prions between species is limited by the “species barrier,” which hampers a full characterization of human prion strains in the mouse model. We report that the efficiency of primary transmission of prions from Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease patients to a wild rodent species, the bank vole (Clethrionomys glareolus), is comparable to that reported in transgenic mice carrying human prion protein, in spite of a low prion protein–sequence homology between man and vole. Voles infected with sporadic and genetic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease isolates show strain-specific patterns of spongiform degeneration and pathological prion protein–deposition, and accumulate protease-resistant prion protein with biochemical properties similar to the human counterpart. Adaptation of genetic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease isolates to voles shows little or no evidence of a transmission barrier, in contrast to the striking barriers observed during transmission of mouse, hamster, and sheep prions to voles. Our results imply that in voles there is no clear relationship between the degree of homology of the prion protein of the donor and recipient species and susceptibility, consistent with the view that the prion strain gives a major contribution to the species barrier. The vole is therefore a valuable model to study human prion diversity and, being susceptible to a range of animal prions, represents a unique tool for comparing isolates from different species.
Prions are unconventional infectious agents that cause fatal neurodegenerative diseases. The transmission of prions between species is considered a rare event because it is limited by the “species barrier.” Nevertheless, in the past 10 y, more than 180 people worldwide died with variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (vCJD) following consumption of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)–contaminated food. The vCJD crisis highlights the need for experimental approaches that are able to characterize human prions and to estimate the risk of animal prions for man. The authors used a new animal model, the bank vole, which appears to address these issues. They observed that these rodents are highly susceptible to sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (sCJD) and genetic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (gCJD), as well as to several animal prions. Transmission to voles indicates that sCJD is caused by at least two distinct prion strains. Surprisingly, voles challenged with gCJD isolates do not show a species barrier, while prions from closely related rodent species encounter a clear barrier in transmitting to voles. Inoculation of voles with scrapie-related and BSE-related strains from several species suggests that the prion strain, and not the donor species, is the major determinant of prion transmissibility between different species. The authors conclude that the vole model is a valuable tool for comparing animal and human prions.
Sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (sCJD) is characterized by wide clinical and pathological variability, which is mainly influenced by the conformation of the misfolded prion protein, and by the methionine and valine polymorphism at codon 129 of the prion protein gene. This heterogeneity likely implies differences in the molecular cascade that leads to the development of certain disease phenotypes. In this study, we investigated the proteome of the frontal cortex of patients with the two most common sCJD subtypes (MM1 and VV2) using 2D-DIGE and MS. Analysis of 2D maps revealed that 46 proteins are differentially expressed in the sCJD. Common differential expression was detected for seven proteins, four showed opposite direction of differential expression, and the remaining ones displayed subtype-specific alteration. The highest number of differentially expressed proteins was associated with signal transduction and neuronal activity. Moreover, functional groups of proteins involved in cell cycle and death, as well as in structure and motility included subtype-specific expressed proteins exclusively. The expression of Rab GDP dissociation inhibitor alpha, which regulates Rab3a-mediated neurotransmitter release, was affected in both sCJD subtypes that were analyzed. Therefore, we also investigated as to whether Rab3a recycling is altered. Indeed, we found an accumulation of the membrane-associated form, thus the active one, which suggests that dysfunction of the Rab3a-mediated exocytosis might be implicated in sCJD pathology.
Biomedicine; 2D-DIGE; Prion; Proteome; Rab3a; Sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease