Modelling growth of prion protein aggregates in the brain in variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

Richard A. Armstrong

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputChapter


Deposition of insoluble prion protein (PrP) in the brain in the form of protein aggregates or deposits is characteristic of the ‘transmissible spongiform encephalopathies’ (TSEs). Understanding the growth and development of PrP aggregates is important both in attempting to elucidate the pathogenesis of prion disease and in the development of treatments designed to inhibit the spread of prion pathology within the brain. Aggregation and disaggregation of proteins and the diffusion of substances into the developing aggregates (surface diffusion) are important factors in the development of protein deposits. Mathematical models suggest that if either aggregation/disaggregation or surface diffusion is the predominant factor, then the size frequency distribution of the resulting protein aggregates will be described by either a power-law or a log-normal model respectively. This study tested this hypothesis for two different populations of PrP deposit, viz., the diffuse and florid-type PrP deposits characteristic of patients with variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD). The size distributions of the florid and diffuse deposits were fitted by a power-law function in 100% and 42% of brain areas studied respectively. By contrast, the size distributions of both types of aggregate deviated significantly from a log-normal model in all areas. Hence, protein aggregation and disaggregation may be the predominant factor in the development of the florid deposits. A more complex combination of factors appears to be involved in the pathogenesis of the diffuse deposits. These results may be useful in the design of treatments to inhibit the development of PrP aggregates in vCJD.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPrions: New Research
EditorsBridgette V. Doupher
PublisherNova science
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9781600210198
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sept 2006


  • Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
  • prion protein aggregate
  • size distribution
  • log-normal distribution
  • florid deposit
  • diffuse deposit
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • beta-amyloid


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