, Volume 128, Issue 3, pp 243-251
Date: 11 Jul 2007

Oral scrapie infection modifies the homeostasis of Peyer’s patches’ dendritic cells

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In transmitted prion diseases the immune system supports the replication and the propagation of the pathogenic agent (PrPSc). DCs, which are mobile cells present in large numbers within lymph organs, are suspected to carry prions through the lymphoid system and to transfer them towards the peripheral nervous system. In this study, C57Bl/6 mice were orally inoculated with PrPSc (scrapie strain 139A) and sacrificed at the preclinical stages of the disease. Immunolabelled cryosections of Peyer’s patches were analysed by confocal microscopy. Membrane prion protein expression was studied by flow cytometry. In Peyer’s patches (PP), dissected at day one and day 105 after oral exposure to scrapie, we observed an increased population of DCs localised in the follicular-associated epithelium. On day 105, PrPSc was found in the follicles inside the PP of prion-infected mice. A subset of Peyer’s patches DCs, which did not express cellular prion protein on their surface in non-infected mice conditions, was prion-positive in scrapie conditions. Within Peyer’s patches oral scrapie exposure thus induced modifications of the homeostasis of DCs at the preclinical stages of the disease. These results give new arguments in favour of the implication of DCs in prion diseases.