Multiorgan detection and characterization of protease-resistant prion protein in a case of variant CJD examined in the United States

Silvio Notari, Francisco J. Moleres, Stephen B. Hunter, Ermias D. Belay, Lawrence B. Schonberger, Ignazio Cali, Piero Parchi, Wun Ju Shieh, Paul Brown, Sherif Zaki, Wen Quan Zou, Pierluigi Gambetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) is a prion disease thought to be acquired by the consumption of prion-contaminated beef products. To date, over 200 cases have been identified around the world, but mainly in the United Kingdom. Three cases have been identified in the United States; however, these subjects were likely exposed to prion infection elsewhere. Here we report on the first of these subjects. Methodology/Principal Findings: Neuropathological and genetic examinations were carried out using standard procedures. We assessed the presence and characteristics of protease-resistant prion protein (PrPres) in brain and 23 other organs and tissues using immunoblots performed directly on total homogenate or following sodium phosphotungstate precipitation to increase PrPres detectability. The brain showed a lack of typical spongiform degeneration and had large plaques, likely stemming from the extensive neuronal loss caused by the long duration (32 months) of the disease. The PrPres found in the brain had the typical characteristics of the PrPres present in vCJD. In addition to the brain and other organs known to be prion positive in vCJD, such as the lymphoreticular system, pituitary and adrenal glands, and gastrointestinal tract, PrPres was also detected for the first time in the dura mater, liver, pancreas, kidney, ovary, uterus, and skin. Conclusions/Significance: Our results indicate that the number of organs affected in vCJD is greater than previously realized and further underscore the risk of iatrogenic transmission in vCJD.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere8765
JournalPLoS One
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 19 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

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