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author:("zero, Inga")
1.  Regulation of human cerebrospinal fluid malate dehydrogenase 1 in sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease patients 
Aging (Albany NY)  2016;8(11):2927-2935.
The identification of reliable diagnostic biomarkers in differential diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases is an ongoing topic. A previous two-dimensional proteomic study on cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) revealed an elevated level of an enzyme, mitochondrial malate dehydrogenase 1 (MDH1), in sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD) patients. Here, we could demonstrate the expression of MDH1 in neurons as well as in the neuropil. Its levels are lower in sCJD brains than in control brains. An examination of CSF-MDH1 in sCJD patients by ELISA revealed a significant elevation of CSF-MDH1 levels in sCJD patients (independently from the PRNP codon 129 MV genotype or the prion protein scrapie (PrPSc) type) in comparison to controls. In combination with total tau (tau), CSF-MDH1 detection exhibited a high diagnostic accuracy for sCJD diagnosis with a sensitivity of 97.5% and a specificity of 95.6%. A correlation study of MDH1 level in CSF with other neurodegenerative marker proteins revealed a significant positive correlation between MDH1 concentration with tau, 14-3-3 and neuron specific enolase level. In conclusion, our study indicated the potential of MDH1 in combination with tau as an additional biomarker in sCJD improving diagnostic accuracy of tau markedly.
PMCID: PMC5191879  PMID: 27852982
cerebrospinal fluid; diagnostic marker; Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease; PRNP codon 129 genotypes; mitochondrial malate dehydrogenase 1
2.  Cerebrospinal fluid real‐time quaking‐induced conversion is a robust and reliable test for sporadic creutzfeldt–jakob disease: An international study 
Annals of Neurology  2016;80(1):160-165.
Real‐time quaking‐induced conversion (RT‐QuIC) has been proposed as a sensitive diagnostic test for sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease; however, before this assay can be introduced into clinical practice, its reliability and reproducibility need to be demonstrated. Two international ring trials were undertaken in which a set of 25 cerebrospinal fluid samples were analyzed by a total of 11 different centers using a range of recombinant prion protein substrates and instrumentation. The results show almost complete concordance between the centers and demonstrate that RT‐QuIC is a suitably reliable and robust technique for clinical practice. Ann Neurol 2016;80:160–165
PMCID: PMC4982084  PMID: 27130376
3.  Quantifying penetrance in a dominant disease gene using large population control cohorts 
Science translational medicine  2016;8(322):322ra9.
More than 100,000 genetic variants are reported to cause Mendelian disease in humans, but the penetrance - the probability that a carrier of the purported disease-causing genotype will indeed develop the disease - is generally unknown. Here we assess the impact of variants in the prion protein gene (PRNP) on the risk of prion disease by analyzing 16,025 prion disease cases, 60,706 population control exomes, and 531,575 individuals genotyped by 23andMe, Inc. We show that missense variants in PRNP previously reported to be pathogenic are at least 30× more common in the population than expected based on genetic prion disease prevalence. While some of this excess can be attributed to benign variants falsely assigned as pathogenic, other variants have genuine effects on disease susceptibility but confer lifetime risks ranging from <0.1% to ~100%. We also show that truncating variants in PRNP have position-dependent effects, with true loss-of-function alleles found in healthy older individuals, supporting the safety of therapeutic suppression of prion protein expression.
PMCID: PMC4774245  PMID: 26791950
4.  Application of an in vitro-amplification assay as a novel pre-screening test for compounds inhibiting the aggregation of prion protein scrapie 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:28711.
In vitro amplification assays, such as real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC) are used to detect aggregation activity of misfolded prion protein (PrP) in brain, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and urine samples from patients with a prion disease. We believe that the method also has a much broader application spectrum. In the present study, we applied RT-QuIC as a pre-screening test for substances that potentially inhibit the aggregation process of the cellular PrP (PrPC) to proteinase (PK)-resistant PrPres. We chose doxycycline as the test substance as it has been tested successfully in animal models and proposed in clinical studies as a therapeutic for prion diseases. The RT-QuIC-reaction was seeded with brain tissue or CSF from sCJD patients and doxycycline was then added in different concentrations as well as at different time points. In both experiments, we observed a dose- and time-dependent inhibition of the RT-QuIC seeding response and a decrease of PK resistant PrPres when doxycycline was added. In contrast, ampicillin or sucrose had no effect on the RT-QuIC seeding response. Our study is the first to apply RT-QuIC as a pre-screening assay for compounds inhibiting the PrP aggregation in vitro and confirms that doxycycline is an efficient inhibitor of the PrP aggregation process in RT-QuIC analysis.
PMCID: PMC4935936  PMID: 27385410
5.  The Priority position paper: Protecting Europe's food chain from prions 
Prion  2016;10(3):165-181.
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) created a global European crisis in the 1980s and 90s, with very serious health and economic implications. Classical BSE now appears to be under control, to a great extent as a result of a global research effort that identified the sources of prions in meat and bone meal (MBM) and developed new animal-testing tools that guided policy. Priority ( was a European Union (EU) Framework Program 7 (FP7)-funded project through which 21 European research institutions and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) joined efforts between 2009 and 2014, to conduct coordinated basic and applied research on prions and prion diseases. At the end of the project, the Priority consortium drafted a position paper ( position paper) with its main conclusions. In the present opinion paper, we summarize these conclusions.
With respect to the issue of re-introducing ruminant protein into the feed-chain, our opinion is that sustaining an absolute ban on feeding ruminant protein to ruminants is essential. In particular, the spread and impact of non-classical forms of scrapie and BSE in ruminants is not fully understood and the risks cannot be estimated. Atypical prion agents will probably continue to represent the dominant form of prion diseases in the near future in Europe. Atypical L-type BSE has clear zoonotic potential, as demonstrated in experimental models. Similarly, there are now data indicating that the atypical scrapie agent can cross various species barriers. More epidemiological data from large cohorts are necessary to reach any conclusion on the impact of its transmissibility on public health. Re-evaluations of safety precautions may become necessary depending on the outcome of these studies.
Intensified searching for molecular determinants of the species barrier is recommended, since this barrier is key for important policy areas and risk assessment. Understanding the structural basis for strains and the basis for adaptation of a strain to a new host will require continued fundamental research, also needed to understand mechanisms of prion transmission, replication and how they cause nervous system dysfunction and death. Early detection of prion infection, ideally at a preclinical stage, also remains crucial for development of effective treatment strategies.
PMCID: PMC4981192  PMID: 27220820
atypical scrapie; atypical BSE; BSE; CJD; prion; scrapie
6.  Variants of PLCXD3 are not associated with variant or sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in a large international study 
BMC Medical Genetics  2016;17:28.
Human prion diseases are relentlessly progressive neurodegenerative disorders which include sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD) and variant CJD (vCJD). Aside from variants of the prion protein gene (PRNP) replicated association at genome-wide levels of significance has proven elusive. A recent association study identified variants in or near to the PLCXD3 gene locus as strong disease risk factors in multiple human prion diseases. This study claimed the first non-PRNP locus to be highly significantly associated with prion disease in genomic studies.
A sub-study of a genome-wide association study with imputation aiming to replicate the finding at PLCXD3 including 129 vCJD and 2500 sCJD samples. Whole exome sequencing to identify rare coding variants of PLCXD3.
Imputation of relevant polymorphisms was accurate based on wet genotyping of a sample. We found no supportive evidence that PLCXD3 variants are associated with disease.
The marked discordance in vCJD genotype frequencies between studies, despite extensive overlap in vCJD cases, and the finding of Hardy-Weinberg disequilibrium in the original study, suggests possible reasons for the discrepancies between studies.
PMCID: PMC4823897  PMID: 27055460
Human prion diseases; Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease; PLCXD3
7.  Cellular Prion Protein (PrPc) and Hypoxia: True to Each Other in Good Times and in Bad, in Sickness, and in Health 
The cellular prion protein (PrPc) and hypoxia appear to be tightly intertwined. Beneficial effects of PrPc on neuronal survival under hypoxic conditions such as focal cerebral ischemia are strongly supported. Conversely, increasing evidence indicates detrimental effects of increased PrPc expression on cancer progression, another condition accompanied by low oxygen tensions. A switch between anaerobic and aerobic metabolism characterizes both conditions. A cellular process that might unite both is glycolysis. Putative role of PrPc in stimulation of glycolysis in times of need is indeed thought provoking. A significance of astrocytic PrPc expression for neuronal survival under hypoxic conditions and possible association of PrPc with the astrocyte-neuron lactate shuttle is considered. We posit PrPc-induced lactate production via transactivation of lactate dehydrogenase A by hypoxia inducible factor 1α as an important factor for survival of both neurons and tumor cells in hypoxic microenvironment. Concomitantly, we discuss a cross-talk between Wnt/β-catenin and PI3K/Akt signaling pathways in executing PrPc-induced activation of glycolysis. Finally, we would like to emphasize that we see a great potential in joining expertise from both fields, neuroscience and cancer research in revealing the mechanisms underlying hypoxia-related pathologies. PrPc may prove focal point for future research.
PMCID: PMC5165248  PMID: 28066187
PrPc; hypoxia; glycolysis; neuroprotection; cancer
8.  Behavioral abnormalities in prion protein knockout mice and the potential relevance of PrPC for the cytoskeleton 
Prion  2014;8(6):381-386.
The cellular prion protein (PrPC) is a highly conserved protein, which is anchored to the outer surface of the plasma membrane. Even though its physiological function has already been investigated in different cell or mouse models where PrPC expression is either upregulated or depleted, its exact physiological role in a mammalian organism remains elusive. Recent studies indicate that PrPC has multiple functions and is involved in cognition, learning, anxiety, locomotion, depression, offensive aggression and nest building behavior. While young animals (3 months of age) show only marginal abnormalities, most of the deficits become apparent as the animals age, which might indicate its role in neurodegeneration or neuroprotection. However, the exact biochemical mechanism and signal transduction pathways involving PrPC are only gradually becoming clearer. We report the observations made in different studies using different Prnp0/0 mouse models and propose that PrPC plays an important role in the regulation of the cytoskeleton and associated proteins. In particular, we showed a nocodazole treatment influenced colocalization of PrPC and α tubulin 1. In addition, we confirmed the observed deficits in nest building using a different backcrossed Prnp0/0 mouse line.
PMCID: PMC4601510  PMID: 25517431
aging; behavior; cellular prion protein; cytoskeleton; tubulin
9.  A Genome Wide Association Study Links Glutamate Receptor Pathway to Sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Risk 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(4):e0123654.
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.
PMCID: PMC4412535  PMID: 25918841
10.  Stability and Reproducibility Underscore Utility of RT-QuIC for Diagnosis of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease 
Molecular Neurobiology  2015;53:1896-1904.
Real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC) allows the amplification of miniscule amounts of scrapie prion protein (PrPSc). Recent studies applied the RT-QuIC methodology to cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) for diagnosing human prion diseases. However, to date, there has not been a formal multi-centre assessment of the reproducibility, validity and stability of RT-QuIC in this context, an indispensable step for establishment as a diagnostic test in clinical practice. In the present study, we analysed CSF from 110 prion disease patients and 400 control patients using the RT-QuIC method under various conditions. In addition, “blinded” ring trials between different participating sites were performed to estimate reproducibility. Using the previously established cut-off of 10,000 relative fluorescence units (rfu), we obtained a sensitivity of 85 % and a specificity of 99 %. The multi-centre inter-laboratory reproducibility of RT-QuIC revealed a Fleiss’ kappa value of 0.83 (95 % CI: 0.40–1.00) indicating an almost perfect agreement. Moreover, we investigated the impact of short-term CSF storage at different temperatures, long-term storage, repeated freezing and thawing cycles and the contamination of CSF with blood on the RT-QuIC seeding response. Our data indicated that the PrPSc seed in CSF is stable to any type of storage condition but sensitive to contaminations with blood (>1250 erythrocytes/μL), which results in a false negative RT-QuIC response. Fresh blood-contaminated samples (3 days) can be rescued by removal of erythrocytes. The present study underlines the reproducibility and high stability of RT-QuIC across various CSF storage conditions with a remarkable sensitivity and specificity, suggesting RT-QuIC as an innovative and robust diagnostic method.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s12035-015-9133-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4789202  PMID: 25823511
Cerebrospinal fluid; Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease; Diagnostic test; Prion protein; Real-time quaking-induced conversion
11.  Plasma prion protein concentration and progression of Alzheimer disease 
Prion  2014;8(2):210-214.
Background/Objective: Recently, PrPc has been linked to AD pathogenesis. Second, a relation of PrPc plasma levels with cognitive status and decline of healthy elderly subjects has been reported. Therefore, we hypothesized baseline plasma levels of PrPc to be associated with AD progression in cognitive and functional domains.
Materials and Methods: AD patients (n = 84) were included into an observational study at time of diagnosis. Baseline plasma PrPc levels were determined. Decline was assessed annually (mean follow-up time 3 years) with the aid of different standardized tests (MMSE, iADL, bADL, GDS, UPDRSIII). Multiple regression analyses were used to uncover potential associations between decline and PrPc levels.
Results: No association of PrPc and decline could be established. Presence of diabetes mellitus was linked to slower deterioration. Intake of neuroleptic drugs or memantine was associated with faster progression.
Conclusion: Plasma PrPc at baseline could not be shown to be related to AD progression in this study. An interesting association of diabetes mellitus and decline warrants further investigation.
PMCID: PMC4189892  PMID: 24549099
Alzheimer; prion protein; cognition; biomarker
12.  No reactivation of JCV and CMV infections in the temporal cortex and cerebellum of sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease patients 
Sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD) is characterized by great phenotypic variability regarding clinical course and neuropathology. The most prominent disease modifiers are a polymorphism in Codon 129 of the prion protein gene and conformational variations of the misfolded prion protein. The cellular form of the prion protein restricts replication of viruses and may be involved in viral host defense, and viral infections influence the presentation and neuropathology in prion diseased mice. We investigated the occurrence of reactivated persistent viral infections of the brain in brain tissue samples of 25 sCJD patients. No evidence of reactivated JCV and CMV infections could be detected. This suggests that JCV and CMV infections are not reactivated as consequence of prion disease and do not act as disease modifiers in sCJD.
PMCID: PMC4299723  PMID: 25628966
Prion; Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease; persistent viral infection; JCV; CMV; disease modifier
13.  Immune responses in rapidly progressive dementia: a comparative study of neuroinflammatory markers in Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis 
Immunological responses may contribute to disease progression and clinical heterogeneity in neurodegenerative dementia, for example, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). Recently, a rapidly progressive form of AD (rpAD) has been described. On neuropathological grounds classical AD and rpAD are not distinguishable at present. All those protein aggregopathies show a state of chronic inflammation with microglia activation and production of proinflammatory cytokines. In this context, it is hypothesized that the severity of the surrounding inflammation substantially contributes to disease progression and accelerated disease courses as seen in rpAD.
Using a cytokine multiplex array based on Luminex Technology, we studied 17 pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and serum from patients with classical dementia (AD) or rapidly progressive dementia (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), rpAD). For controls, we chose patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and non-neurodegenerative diseases. We found a significant and isolated elevation of proinflammatory cytokines (IL-13, TNF-α and G-CSF) in the serum of rpAD patients. In CSF, IL-8 and MCP-1 chemokines were significantly elevated in CJD patients and MCP-1 in AD patients.
In conclusion, we found a characteristic proinflammatory cytokine response in the serum of rpAD patients. It might explain the more rapidly progressive course of the rpAD subform and can be helpful in distinguishing between classical AD and rpAD.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12974-014-0170-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4207356  PMID: 25315814
14.  PrP mRNA and protein expression in brain and PrPc in CSF in Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease MM1 and VV2 
Prion  2013;7(5):383-393.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a heterogenic neurodegenerative disorder associated with abnormal post-translational processing of cellular prion protein (PrPc). CJD displays distinctive clinical and pathological features which correlate with the genotype at the codon 129 (methionine or valine: M or V respectively) in the prion protein gene and with size of the protease-resistant core of the abnormal prion protein PrPsc (type 1: 20/21 kDa and type 2: 19 kDa). MM1 and VV2 are the most common sporadic CJD (sCJD) subtypes. PrP mRNA expression levels in the frontal cortex and cerebellum are reduced in sCJD in a form subtype-dependent. Total PrP protein levels and PrPsc levels in the frontal cortex and cerebellum accumulate differentially in sCJD MM1 and sCJD VV2 with no relation between PrPsc deposition and spongiform degeneration and neuron loss, but with microgliosis, and IL6 and TNF-α response. In the CSF, reduced PrPc, the only form present in this compartment, occurs in sCJD MM1 and VV2. PrP mRNA expression is also reduced in the frontal cortex in advanced stages of Alzheimer disease, Lewy body disease, progressive supranuclear palsy, and frontotemporal lobe degeneration, but PrPc levels in brain varies from one disease to another. Reduced PrPc levels in CSF correlate with PrP mRNA expression in brain, which in turn reflects severity of degeneration in sCJD.
PMCID: PMC4134343  PMID: 24047819
prion protein; Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease; cerebrospinal fluid; brain; mRNA; neurodegenerative diseases
15.  CSF Biomarkers and Neuropsychological Profiles in Patients with Cerebral Small-Vessel Disease 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e105000.
Despite existing criteria, differential diagnosis of Vascular Dementia (VD) and Alzheimer's disease (AD) remains difficult. The aim of this study is to figure out cognitive and biomarker profiles that may help to distinguish between VD, AD and AD + Cerebral Small Vessel Disease (CSVD). We examined a cohort of patients with CSVD (n = 92). After stratification of cognitive impaired patients (n = 59) using the standard CSF beta-amyloid 42/40 ratio cut-off point of 0.975, we obtained two groups which differed with respect to several features: 32 patients with normal beta-amyloid 42/40 ratio (>0.975) showed markedly impaired blood-brain-barrier function as indicated by an elevated albumin ratio (median 8.35). They also differed in cognitive profiles when compared to 27 patients with AD typical beta-amyloid ratio and normal albumin ratio. We also enrolled an additional group of patients with AD (no significant CSVD on MRI, n = 27) which showed no impairment of the blood-brain-barrier. We showed a negative correlation between the albumin ratio and executive cognitive function (p = 0.016) and a negative correlation between memory function and typical AD markers like Tau (p = 0.004) and p181-Tau (p = 0.023) in our cohort. We suppose that the group of patients with normal beta-amyloid ratio represents VD while patients in the other groups represent AD+CSVD and pure AD. Our results support the idea that a dysfunction of the blood-brain-barrier might be contributing factor in the development of cognitive decline in CSVD as it seems to be of more importance than the severity of white matter lesions.
PMCID: PMC4141759  PMID: 25147945
16.  Characteristic CSF Prion Seeding Efficiency in Humans with Prion Diseases 
Molecular Neurobiology  2014;51:396-405.
The development of in vitro amplification systems allows detecting femtomolar amounts of prion protein scrapie (PrPSc) in human cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). We performed a CSF study to determine the effects of prion disease type, codon 129 genotype, PrPSc type, and other disease-related factors on the real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC) response. We analyzed times to 10,000 relative fluorescence units, areas under the curve and the signal maximum of RT-QuIC response as seeding parameters of interest. Interestingly, type of prion disease (sporadic vs. genetic) and the PRNP mutation (E200K vs. V210I and FFI), codon 129 genotype, and PrPSc type affected RT-QuIC response. In genetic forms, type of mutation showed the strongest effect on the observed outcome variables. In sporadic CJD, MM1 patients displayed a higher RT-QuIC signal maximum compared to MV1 and VV1. Age and gender were not associated with RT-QuIC signal, but patients with a short disease course showed a higher seeding efficiency of the RT-QuIC response. This study demonstrated that PrPSc characteristics in the CSF of human prion disease patients are associated with disease subtypes and rate of decline as defined by disease duration.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s12035-014-8709-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4309904  PMID: 24809690
Cerebrospinal fluid; Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease; Premortem test; Prion protein; Real-time quaking-induced conversion assay
17.  CSF prion protein concentration and cognition in patients with Alzheimer disease 
Prion  2013;7(3):229-234.
Background/Objective: PrPc has been suggested to play a role in AD pathophysiology. CSF concentrations of PrPc have been shown to be reduced in AD compared with healthy controls. Furthermore, serum levels of PrPc have recently been reported to be associated with the cognitive status of healthy elderly subjects. Therefore, we hypothesized that CSF levels of PrPc could be associated with cognitive function of AD patients at the time of diagnosis.
Methods: AD patients (n = 114) included into an observational study underwent CERAD testing and lumbar puncture at time of diagnosis / study inclusion. CSF PrPc was determined. Generalized linear models were fitted to assess the associations of PrPc plus a variety of possible confounding factors and CERAD subscale measures.
Results: No association of CSF PrPc and cognitive status could be established, while other factors (i.e., use of antipsychotic drugs, use of anti-dementia drugs, female sex, pre-progression time) were related to worse cognitive function in some domains.
Conclusion: CSF PrPc appears not to be a useful biochemical surrogate of cognitive status in AD at the time of diagnosis. Follow-up analyses will examine possible associations with the speed of cognitive decline.
PMCID: PMC3783108  PMID: 23406922
Alzheimer; prion protein; cognition; CSF; biomarker
18.  Detection of Infectivity in Blood of Persons with Variant and Sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2014;20(1):114-117.
We report the presence of infectivity in erythrocytes, leukocytes, and plasma of 1 person with variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and in the plasma of 2 in 4 persons whose tests were positive for sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The measured infectivity levels were comparable to those reported in various animals with transmissible spongiform encephalopathies.
PMCID: PMC3884712  PMID: 24377668
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease; CJD; vCJD; sCJD; prions; blood; infectivity; transmissible spongiform encephalopathy; TSE
19.  Subtype and Regional-Specific Neuroinflammation in Sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob Disease 
The present study identifies deregulated cytokines and mediators of the immune response in the frontal cortex and cerebellum of sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (sCJD) MM1 and VV2 subtypes compared to age-matched controls. Deregulated genes include pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines, toll-like receptors, colony stimulating factors, cathepsins, members of the complement system, and members of the integrin and CTL/CTLD family with particular regional and sCJD subtype patterns. Analysis of cytokines and mediators at protein level shows expression of selected molecules and receptors in neurons, in astrocytes, and/or in microglia, thus suggesting interactions between neurons and glial cells, mainly microglia, in the neuroinflammatory response in sCJD. Similar inflammatory responses have been shown in the tg340 sCJD MM1 mice, revealing a progressive deregulation of inflammatory mediators with disease progression. Yet, inflammatory molecules involved are subjected to species differences in humans and mice. Moreover, inflammatory-related cell signaling pathways NFκB/IKK and JAK/STAT are activated in sCJD and sCJD MM1 mice. Together, the present observations show a self-sustained complex inflammatory and inflammatory-related responses occurring already at early clinical stages in animal model and dramatically progressing at advanced stages of sCJD. Considering this scenario, measures tailored to modulate (activate or inhibit) specific molecules could be therapeutic options in CJD.
PMCID: PMC4120692  PMID: 25136317
Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease; neuroinflammation; prion protein; cytokines; microglia
20.  Investigating the Association of ApoE Genotypes with Blood-Brain Barrier Dysfunction Measured by Cerebrospinal Fluid-Serum Albumin Ratio in a Cohort of Patients with Different Types of Dementia 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e84405.
Since more than a decade ApoE is known to be a strong risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD); however, molecular pathways mediating this risk are still unclear. In recent years it has been hypothesized that ApoE might play a role in the disintegration of blood-brain barrier (BBB). In the present study we addressed the question if ApoE genotypes might be associated with BBB function measured by albumin ratio (QAlb) in a large cohort of patients with different types of dementia.
Five hundred twenty (520) patients with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD, n = 350), Alzheimer's disease (n = 71) and cerebral small vessel disease (n = 99) were assessed for their ApoE genotype. BBB function was measured in all patients using QAlb and was compared between ApoE genotypes. Dominant and additive genetic models were assumed in order to investigate the potential effect of ApoE on BBB function.
We observed no systematic differences in QAlb between ApoE genotypes within the present study. Increased QAlb levels were shown for those without E3 allele in the subgroup of CJD patients when assuming a dominant genetic model (p = 0.035). This could not be confirmed for patients with other forms of dementia (p = 0.234).
Although there was some evidence for a protective effect of E3 alleles in CJD patients, this study does not support the hypothesis of a systematic role of ApoE genotypes in BBB function in individuals with a diagnosis of dementia. Thus, changes in BBB function do not seem to contribute to the increased risk of cognitive decline associated with certain ApoE genotypes. The interpretation of the results of this study must take into account that BBB function was only assessed by measuring QAlb which has been shown to be a good marker for overall BBB integrity but might not reflect all qualities of the barrier.
PMCID: PMC3874026  PMID: 24386372
21.  On the issue of transmissibility of Alzheimer disease 
Prion  2012;6(5):447-452.
Results from recent experiments with rodents imply that Alzheimer disease might be inducible by seeding Aβ peptides into recipient animals. In respect to this new experimental data, public health aspects as well as epidemiological data have to be reevaluated. In this article, the available experimental and epidemiological data are reviewed.
PMCID: PMC3510860  PMID: 23052009
Alzheimer; transmissibility; prion; dementia; epidemiology
22.  Cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers in Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and ischemic stroke patients: a critical analysis 
Journal of Neurology  2013;260(11):2722-2727.
Vascular factors are thought to contribute to the development of disease pathology in neurodegenerative dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Another entity, called vascular dementia (VaD), comprises a less defined group of dementia patients having various vascular diseases that especially emerge in the elderly population and require valid options for examination and differential diagnosis. In the context of a retrospective study, we analyzed the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers t-tau, p-tau and Aß42 of a total of 131 patients with AD (n = 47), mild cognitive impairment (MCI) (n = 22), VaD (n = 44) and stroke (n = 18). We found a remarkable alteration in CSF biomarker profile in AD, VaD and in acute ischemic events. CSF profile in AD patients was altered in a very similar way as in stroke patients, without statistical differences. In stroke, increase depend largely on size and duration after the initial event. Total tau levels were useful to differ between VaD and stroke. Aß42 decreased in a similar way in AD, VaD and stroke and had a trend to lower levels in MCI but not in controls.
PMCID: PMC3825487  PMID: 23877436
CSF; Biomarkers; Aß; Tau; Alzheimer’s disease; Vascular dementia; Stroke
23.  Prion Peptide Uptake in Microglial Cells – The Effect of Naturally Occurring Autoantibodies against Prion Protein 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e67743.
In prion disease, a profound microglial activation that precedes neurodegeneration has been observed in the CNS. It is still not fully elucidated whether microglial activation has beneficial effects in terms of prion clearance or whether microglial cells have a mainly detrimental function through the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines. To date, no disease-modifying therapy exists. Several immunization attempts have been performed as one therapeutic approach. Recently, naturally occurring autoantibodies against the prion protein (nAbs-PrP) have been detected. These autoantibodies are able to break down fibrils of the most commonly used mutant prion variant PrP106-126 A117V and prevent PrP106-126 A117V-induced toxicity in primary neurons. In this study, we examined the phagocytosis of the prion peptide PrP106-126 A117V by primary microglial cells and the effect of nAbs-PrP on microglia. nAbs-PrP considerably enhanced the uptake of PrP106-126 A117V without inducing an inflammatory response in microglial cells. PrP106-126 A117V uptake was at least partially mediated through scavenger receptors. Phagocytosis of PrP106-126 A117V with nAbs-PrP was inhibited by wortmannin, a potent phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase inhibitor, indicating a separate uptake mechanism for nAbs-PrP mediated phagocytosis. These data suggest the possible mechanisms of action of nAbs-PrP in prion disease.
PMCID: PMC3695867  PMID: 23840767
24.  Enhanced Chemokine Receptor Expression on Leukocytes of Patients with Alzheimer's Disease 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66664.
Although primarily a neurological complaint, systemic inflammation is present in Alzheimer's Disease, with higher than normal levels of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines in the periphery as well as the brain. A gradient of these factors may enhance recruitment of activated immune cells into the brain via chemotaxis. Here, we investigated the phenotypes of circulating immune cells in AD patients with multi-colour flow cytometry to determine whether their expression of chemokine receptors is consistent with this hypothesis. In this study, we confirmed our previously reported data on the shift of early- to late-differentiated CD4+ T-cells in AD patients. The percentage of cells expressing CD25, a marker of acute T-cell activation, was higher in patients than in age-matched controls, and percentages of CCR6+ cells were elevated. This chemokine receptor is primarily expressed on pro-inflammatory memory cells and Th17 cells. The proportion of cells expressing CCR4 (expressed on Th2 cells) and CCR5 (Th1 cells and dendritic cells) was also greater in patients, and was more pronounced on CD4+ than CD8+ T-cells. These findings allow a more detailed insight into the systemic immune status of patients with Alzheimer's disease and suggest possible novel targets for immune therapy.
PMCID: PMC3688934  PMID: 23824053
25.  Genome-wide association study in multiple human prion diseases suggests genetic risk factors additional to PRNP 
Human Molecular Genetics  2011;21(8):1897-1906.
Prion diseases are fatal neurodegenerative diseases of humans and animals caused by the misfolding and aggregation of prion protein (PrP). Mammalian prion diseases are under strong genetic control but few risk factors are known aside from the PrP gene locus (PRNP). No genome-wide association study (GWAS) has been done aside from a small sample of variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD). We conducted GWAS of sporadic CJD (sCJD), variant CJD (vCJD), iatrogenic CJD, inherited prion disease, kuru and resistance to kuru despite attendance at mortuary feasts. After quality control, we analysed 2000 samples and 6015 control individuals (provided by the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium and KORA-gen) for 491032-511862 SNPs in the European study. Association studies were done in each geographical and aetiological group followed by several combined analyses. The PRNP locus was highly associated with risk in all geographical and aetiological groups. This association was driven by the known coding variation at rs1799990 (PRNP codon 129). No non-PRNP loci achieved genome-wide significance in the meta-analysis of all human prion disease. SNPs at the ZBTB38–RASA2 locus were associated with CJD in the UK (rs295301, P = 3.13 × 10−8; OR, 0.70) but these SNPs showed no replication evidence of association in German sCJD or in Papua New Guinea-based tests. A SNP in the CHN2 gene was associated with vCJD [P = 1.5 × 10−7; odds ratio (OR), 2.36], but not in UK sCJD (P = 0.049; OR, 1.24), in German sCJD or in PNG groups. In the overall meta-analysis of CJD, 14 SNPs were associated (P < 10−5; two at PRNP, three at ZBTB38–RASA2, nine at nine other independent non-PRNP loci), more than would be expected by chance. None of the loci recently identified as genome-wide significant in studies of other neurodegenerative diseases showed any clear evidence of association in prion diseases. Concerning common genetic variation, it is likely that the PRNP locus contains the only strong risk factors that act universally across human prion diseases. Our data are most consistent with several other risk loci of modest overall effects which will require further genetic association studies to provide definitive evidence.
PMCID: PMC3313791  PMID: 22210626

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