Dispersion of prion protein deposits around blood vessels in variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

Richard A. Armstrong

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In variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), a disease linked to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), florid-type prion protein (PrP(sc)) deposits are aggregated around the larger diameter (> 10 µm) cerebral microvessels. Clustering of PrP(sc) deposits around blood vessels may result from blood-borne prions or be a consequence of the cerebral vasculature influencing the development of the florid deposits. To clarify the factors involved, the dispersion of the florid PrP(sc) deposits was studied around the larger diameter microvessels in the neocortex, hippocampus, and cerebellum of ten cases of vCJD. In the majority of brain regions, florid deposits were clustered around the larger diameter vessels with a mean cluster size of between 50 µm and 628 µm. With the exception of the molecular layer of the dentate gyrus, the density of the florid deposits declined as a negative exponential function of distance from a blood vessel profile suggesting that diffusion of molecules from blood vessels is a factor in the formation of the florid deposits. Diffusion of PrP(sc) directly into the brain via the microvasculature has been demonstrated in vCJD in a small number of cases. However, the distribution of the prion deposits in vCJD is more likely to reflect molecular 'chaperones' diffusing from vessels and promoting the aggregation of pre-existing PrP(sc) in the vicinity of the vessels to form florid deposits.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-158
Number of pages9
JournalFolia Neuropathologica
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010

Bibliographical note

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  • variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
  • disease form of prion protein
  • florid deposits
  • clustering
  • diffusion
  • negative exponential model


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