Monday, December 14, 2009

Similarities between Forms of Sheep Scrapie and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Are Encoded by Distinct Prion Types

(American Journal of Pathology. 2009;175:2566-2573.) © 2009 American Society for Investigative Pathology DOI: 10.2353/ajpath.2009.090623

Similarities between Forms of Sheep Scrapie and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Are Encoded by Distinct Prion Types

Wiebke M. Wemheuer*, Sylvie L. Benestad, Arne Wrede*, Ulf Schulze-Sturm*, Wilhelm E. Wemheuer, Uwe Hahmann*, Joanna Gawinecka, Ekkehard Schütz, Inga Zerr, Bertram Brenig, Bjørn Bratberg, Olivier Andréoletti¶ and Walter J. Schulz-Schaeffer* From the Prion and Dementia Research Unit,* Department of Neuropathology, and the National Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies Reference Center, Department of Neurology, University Medical Center Goettingen, Goettingen, Germany; the Department of Pathology, National Veterinary Institute, Oslo, Norway; the Institute of Veterinary Medicine, Faculty for Agricultural Sciences, University of Goettingen, Goettingen, Germany; and Animal Health,¶ Interactions Hôte Agent Pathogène, Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire de Toulouse, Toulouse, France

Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies such as scrapie in sheep, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in humans, and bovine sporadic encephalopathy in cattle are characterized by the accumulation of a misfolded protein: the pathological prion protein. Ever since bovine sporadic encephalopathy was discovered as the likely cause of the new variant of CJD in humans, parallels between human and animal transmissible spongiform encephalopathies must be viewed under the aspect of a disease risk for humans. In our study we have compared prion characteristics of different forms of sheep scrapie with those of different phenotypes of sporadic CJD. The disease characteristics of sporadic CJD depend considerably on the prion type 1 or 2. Our results show that there are obvious parallels between sporadic CJD type 1 and the so-called atypical/Nor98 scrapie. These parelleles apply to the deposition form of pathological prion protein in the brain, detected by the paraffin-embedded-tissue blot and the prion aggregate stability with regard to denaturation by the chaotropic salt guanidine hydrochloride. The same applies to sporadic CJD type 2 and classical scrapie. The observed parallels between types of sporadic CJD and types of sheep scrapie demonstrate that distinct groups of prion disease exist in different species. This should be taken into consideration when discussing interspecies transmission.


Different Scrapie Prion Types Show Similarities to Human Prion Types: PrPsc Deposition Pattern and Western Blot Results

After proteinase K-digestion and Western blot analysis, two different prion protein types were detectable in clinically distinct human Creutzfeldt-Jakob diseases.30 Depending on the PrPSc types 1 or 2 (Figure 1C) a difference in the form of PrPSc aggregates and the neuroanatomical distribution in the brain could be observed similar to differences identified in sheep scrapie. In patients with CJD that accumulate PrPSc type 1, reticular/synaptic were detected in cortical structures (Figure 3F), subcortical nuclei, and the cerebellar cortex (Figure 4D). By contrast, prion aggregates in patients accumulating PrPSc type 2 appeared to be complex as they displayed in particular perivacuolar, intra- and perineuronal, and/or plaque-like forms (Figures 3C and 5B). These differences concerning the deposition form of PrPSc aggregates were independent of the methionine/valine polymorphism at codon 129 of the PRNP. The topographical pattern of PrPSc distribution between these two prion types differed as follows: type 1 deposits were typically restricted to gray matter structures, while all type 2 patients showed deposits in the white matter. In patients with type 1 PrPSc the midbrain and brain stem structures were relatively spared, but in patients with type 2 PrPSc brain stem and midbrain were heavily affected. Although these prion type-related topographical differences are not completely identical to those in sheep scrapie, a comparable connection between prion type and deposition pattern is evident.

Aggregate Stability Regarding Denaturation

Similar to scrapie in sheep, the stability of PrPSc aggregates of human sporadic CJD against denaturation with GdnHCl showed two groups: denaturation-resistant and denaturation-sensitive PrPSc aggregates. This property correlated with the prion protein type according to Parchi et al8 and is independent from the physiologically occurring methionine/valine polymorphism at codon 129 of the PRNP. By membrane adsorption after GdnHCl denaturation and proteinase K-digestion, human PrPSc type 1 proved to be less stable than human PrPSc type 2. While human PrPSc type 2 was detectable up to GdnHCl concentrations between 3M and 4M, human PrPSc type 1 was stable up to 2M GdnHCl. Neither methionine nor valine at codon 129 in type 1 or type 2 seemed to alter the stability of the prion protein aggregates (Figure 5).

Summarizing the results, striking parallels between human PrPSc type 1 and atypical/Nor98 scrapie as well as human PrPSc type 2 and classical scrapie are observed with regard to PrPSc deposition and stability of the prion aggregates.


In humans, different prion types are linked with clinically and neuropathologically distinct prion diseases.8 The present work emphasizes that the differences in deposition characteristics and stability with regard to denaturation between atypical/Nor98 and classical scrapie also account for different prion types. Moreover, the two scrapie types that have been characterized show a number of striking similarities with human PrPSc types in sporadic CJD. Hence, we propose that the existence of different PrPSc types might be a common denominator of prion diseases in humans and animals. Since these two prion types show an across-the-species comparability with similar biochemical and pathological characteristics, it is most likely that they exist due to a different conformational pattern of the disease-related prion protein.

Prion Types Depend on Conformation

The interpretation that the conformation of PrPSc accounts for prion types is supported by different proteinase K-cleavage sites of human prion types9 and the propagation of mutation-associated prion characteristics in human transgenic mice without PRNP-point mutation. 31 However, differences in protein stability as they have been found in this study, provide direct evidence for a conformational distinction between these molecules.32 Further support for the relation between type and conformation is also given by experiments focusing on the size of prion protein aggregates. Using virus removal filters, Kobayashi et al33 were able to show differences in the size of CJD type 1 and type 2 aggregates: PrPSc type 2 forms larger aggregates than PrPSc type 1, independent of whether the disease was sporadic, iatrogenic or acquired. This difference is clearly reflected by the morphology of the PrPSc depositions we have found in sheep scrapie and human CJD. Sporadic CJD type 1 and atypical/ Nor98 scrapie are characterized by fine (reticular) deposits, whereas CJD type 2 and classical scrapie display a complex aggregate pattern, regardless of the respective genotypes at the polymorphic positions of the PRNP that were investigated.

Prion Type Characteristics Versus Prion Strain Characteristics

Structural differences of the disease-associated protein have also been proposed as an explanation for the existence of strains. Partial digestion of the disease-associated protein with proteinase K as well as differences in antibody binding after the protein was partially denatured were used to identify structural characteristics in correlation with strain properties and different clinical TSE forms.23,34,35 It needs to be considered that the kinetics of proteinase K-digestion of PrPSc are markedly influenced by detergent effects in the buffer, demonstrating that the accessibility of the cleavage sites are variable.35 In contrast, differences in the stability against total unfolding of PrPSc seem to be a usable criterion to identify conformational differences or conformational motives. Whereas detergents affect the tertiary structure of a protein by interacting with hydrophilic and hydrophobic areas of protein molecules, chaotropic salts like GdnHCl destroy the hydrogen bonds in -helices and -sheets leading to an irregular coiled polypeptide chain.36 This is in line with the observation that detergents remove prion infectivity only partially, whereas chemicals that destroy secondary structures like chaotropic salts are highly effective. 37 However, detectable differences regarding the stability against denaturation with GdnHCl shown for various prion strains in hamsters seem to be very small compared with the ones that can be shown here for the prion types of human and ovine prion diseases. Strains could thus correspond to structural differences that are less marked than those defining types and are probably constant only under defined conditions. Influences of polymorphisms or interactions with other genetic factors like the promotor region, species-specific factors like the recently detected incorporation of polyanionic molecules into prions,38 glycosaminoglycans or other yet unknown factors of the original host may also lead to different strains in a new host within the prion types of the original species.5,39 The existence of prion types does not exclude the existence of strains. The same variations that account for strains might be the reason for differences in the clinical disease course of the natural host.

Two Different Prion Types also in BSE?

Parallel to human sporadic CJD and our results in sheep scrapie, there is increasing evidence that two prion types also exist in cattle BSE. Two presumably sporadic forms of BSE known as H-type BSE14 and bovine amyloidotic spongiform encephalopathy, also called L-type BSE,15 have been described in cattle in addition to typical/classical BSE.40 The small variation in the apparent molecular weight of the unglycosylated band of bovine amyloidotic spongiform encephalopathy is considered to be well within the range of classical BSE,41,42 which would leave H-type BSE with a considerably larger unglycosylated fragment in Western blot analysis than the second BSE type. Interestingly, bovine amyloidotic spongiform encephalopathy converts into classical BSE after serial passages in bovine-transgenic mice,43 although displaying clinically different diseases in cattle.44 From the latter experiment the authors concluded that different strains were responsible for different phenotypes. Obviously the different clinical diseases were generated by agents that belong to a single prion type. These results together with our observations emphasize the need to differentiate strictly between prion types and prion strains and demonstrate that even in cattle BSE, one prion type may contain different prion strains.

Prion Type Displays Parallels in the Pathophysiology of Disease between Species

Biochemical and morphological similarities have been used to draw parallels between forms of BSE and human prion diseases.15 Parallels between species can also be observed with regard to the route of prion infection: in classical BSE, variant CJD, and classical scrapie, all of which presumably belong to one class of prion type (type 2 in humans) according to the observations made above, the oral route of infection has been identified. These TSEs use the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus nerve as an entry site into the brain.29,45,46 This observation suggests that distinct prion types in human and animal TSEs possibly have an impact on the pathogenesis of prion diseases.


As the prion protein is a highly conserved protein in terms of evolution, parallels between characteristics of prion types in TSEs of different species are of interest. In the present study, we report previously unknown similarities between sheep scrapie forms and human sporadic CJD types. We propose that the observed similarities between sheep scrapie and sporadic CJD in humans justify new interspecies groups of prion diseases in which prion types, not prion strains, are the major determinant for prion disease forms. While epidemiology implies that classical scrapie is not related to human TSEs,47 the atypical/Nor98 scrapie risk for human transmission has not yet been elucidated. Currently there is no compelling evidence that sCJD has a different origin than sporadic genesis. However, the finding of prion types with an across-the-species comparability might provide further understanding of the pathogenesis in prion diseases.

Acknowledgments We thank Tatjana Pfander, Nadine Rupprecht, and Kerstin Brekerbohm for their skillful technical assistance.

hmmm, this is getting interesting now...

> Sporadic CJD type 1 and atypical/ Nor98 scrapie are characterized by fine (reticular) deposits,

see also ;

> All of the Heidenhain variants were of the methionine/ methionine type 1 molecular subtype.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008 Heidenhain Variant Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease Case Report


Heidenhain Variant Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease autopsy case report 'MOM'

DIVISION OF NEUROPATHOLOGY University of Texas Medical Branch 114 McCullough Bldg. Galveston, Texas 77555-0785


DATE: 4-23-98

TO: Mr. Terry Singeltary @ -------

FROM: Gerald Campbell

FAX: (409) 772-5315 PHONE: (409) 772-2881

Number of Pages (including cover sheet):



This document accompanying this transmission contains confidential information belonging to the sender that is legally privileged. This information is intended only for the use of the individual or entry names above. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any disclosure, copying distribution, or the taking of any action in reliances on the contents of this telefaxed information is strictly prohibited. If you received this telefax in error, please notify us by telephone immediately to arrange for return of the original documents. -------------------------- Patient Account: 90000014-518 Med. Rec. No.: (0160)118511Q Patient Name: POULTER, BARBARA Age: 63 YRS DOB: 10/17/34 Sex: F Admitting Race: C

Attending Dr.: Date / Time Admitted : 12/14/97 1228 Copies to:

UTMB University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston, Texas 77555-0543 (409) 772-1238 Fax (409) 772-5683 Pathology Report

FINAL AUTOPSY DIAGNOSIS Autopsy' Office (409)772-2858

Autopsy NO.: AU-97-00435

AUTOPSY INFORMATION: Occupation: Unknown Birthplace: Unknown Residence: Crystal Beach Date/Time of Death: 12/14/97 13:30 Date/Time of Autopsy: 12/15/97 15:00 Pathologist/Resident: Pencil/Fernandez Service: Private Restriction: Brain only


I. Brain: Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Heidenhain variant.

snip...see full text ;


Parallels between different forms of sheep scrapie and types of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD)

Wiebke M. Wemheuer1, Sylvie L. Benestad2, Arne Wrede1, Wilhelm E. Wemheuer3, Tatjana Pfander1, Bjørn Bratberg2, Bertram Brenig3,Walter J. Schulz-Schaeffer1 1University Medical Center Goettingen, Germany; 2Institute of Veterinary Medicine Oslo, Norway; 3Institute of Veterinary Medicine Goettingen, Germany

Background: Scrapie in sheep and goats is often regarded as the archetype of prion diseases. In 1998, a new form of scrapie – atypical/Nor98 scrapie – was described that differed from classical scrapie in terms of epidemiology, Western blot profile, the distribution of pathological prion protein (PrPSc) in the body and its stability against proteinase K. In a similar way, distinct disease types exist in sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). They differ with regard to their clinical outcome, Western blot profile and PrPSc deposition pattern in the central nervous system (CNS).

Objectives: The comparison of PrPSc deposits in sheep scrapie and human sporadic CJD.

Methods: Tissues of the CNS of sheep with classical scrapie, sheep with atypical/Nor98 scrapie and 20 patients with sporadic CJD were examined using the sensitive Paraffin Embedded Tissue (PET) blot method. The results were compared with those obtained by immunohistochemistry. With the objective of gaining information on the protein conformation, the PrPSc of classical and atypical/Nor98 sheep scrapie and sporadic CJD was tested for its stability against denaturation with guanidine hydrochloride (GdnHCl) using a Membrane Adsorption Assay.

Results: The PrPSc of atypical/Nor98 scrapie cases and of CJD prion type 1 patients exhibits a mainly reticular/synaptic deposition pattern in the brain and is relatively sensitive to denaturation with GdnHCl. In contrast classical scrapie cases and CJD prion type 2 patients have a more complex PrPSc deposition pattern in common that consists of larger PrPSc aggregates and the PrPSc itself is comparatively stable against denaturation.

Discussion: The similarity between CJD types and scrapie types indicates that at least two comparable forms of the misfolded prion protein exist beyond species barriers and can elicit prion diseases. It seems therefore reasonable to classify classical and atypical/Nor98 scrapie – in analogy to the existing CJD types – as different scrapie types.

Monday, November 30, 2009


Monday, December 1, 2008

When Atypical Scrapie cross species barriers


This is provided by the statistically significant increase in the incidence of sheep scrape from 1985, as determined from analyses of the submissions made to VI Centres, and from individual case and flock incident studies. ........

1: J Infect Dis 1980 Aug;142(2):205-8

Oral transmission of kuru, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and scrapie to nonhuman primates.

Gibbs CJ Jr, Amyx HL, Bacote A, Masters CL, Gajdusek DC.

Kuru and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease of humans and scrapie disease of sheep and goats were transmitted to squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus) that were exposed to the infectious agents only by their nonforced consumption of known infectious tissues. The asymptomatic incubation period in the one monkey exposed to the virus of kuru was 36 months; that in the two monkeys exposed to the virus of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease was 23 and 27 months, respectively; and that in the two monkeys exposed to the virus of scrapie was 25 and 32 months, respectively. Careful physical examination of the buccal cavities of all of the monkeys failed to reveal signs or oral lesions. One additional monkey similarly exposed to kuru has remained asymptomatic during the 39 months that it has been under observation.


The successful transmission of kuru, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and scrapie by natural feeding to squirrel monkeys that we have reported provides further grounds for concern that scrapie-infected meat may occasionally give rise in humans to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

PMID: 6997404



A The Present Position with respect to Scrapie A] The Problem

Scrapie is a natural disease of sheep and goats. It is a slow and inexorably progressive degenerative disorder of the nervous system and it ia fatal. It is enzootic in the United Kingdom but not in all countries.

The field problem has been reviewed by a MAFF working group (ARC 35/77). It is difficult to assess the incidence in Britain for a variety of reasons but the disease causes serious financial loss; it is estimated that it cost Swaledale breeders alone $l.7 M during the five years 1971-1975. A further inestimable loss arises from the closure of certain export markets, in particular those of the United States, to British sheep.

It is clear that scrapie in sheep is important commercially and for that reason alone effective measures to control it should be devised as quickly as possible.

Recently the question has again been brought up as to whether scrapie is transmissible to man. This has followed reports that the disease has been transmitted to primates. One particularly lurid speculation (Gajdusek 1977) conjectures that the agents of scrapie, kuru, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and transmissible encephalopathy of mink are varieties of a single "virus". The U.S. Department of Agriculture concluded that it could "no longer justify or permit scrapie-blood line and scrapie-exposed sheep and goats to be processed for human or animal food at slaughter or rendering plants" (ARC 84/77)" The problem is emphasised by the finding that some strains of scrapie produce lesions identical to the once which characterise the human dementias"

Whether true or not. the hypothesis that these agents might be transmissible to man raises two considerations. First, the safety of laboratory personnel requires prompt attention. Second, action such as the "scorched meat" policy of USDA makes the solution of the acrapie problem urgent if the sheep industry is not to suffer grievously.



Nature. 1972 Mar 10;236(5341):73-4.

Transmission of scrapie to the cynomolgus monkey (Macaca fascicularis). Gibbs CJ Jr, Gajdusek DC.

Nature 236, 73 - 74 (10 March 1972); doi:10.1038/236073a0

Transmission of Scrapie to the Cynomolgus Monkey (Macaca fascicularis)


National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland

SCRAPIE has been transmitted to the cynomolgus, or crab-eating, monkey (Macaca fascicularis) with an incubation period of more than 5 yr from the time of intracerebral inoculation of scrapie-infected mouse brain. The animal developed a chronic central nervous system degeneration, with ataxia, tremor and myoclonus with associated severe scrapie-like pathology of intensive astroglial hypertrophy and proliferation, neuronal vacuolation and status spongiosus of grey matter. The strain of scrapie virus used was the eighth passage in Swiss mice (NIH) of a Compton strain of scrapie obtained as ninth intracerebral passage of the agent in goat brain, from Dr R. L. Chandler (ARC, Compton, Berkshire).

Epidemiology of Scrapie in the United States 1977

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Nor98-like Scrapie in the United States of America

Scrapie USA

Like lambs to the slaughter

31 March 2001

by Debora MacKenzie Magazine issue 2284

FOUR years ago, Terry Singeltary watched his mother die horribly from a degenerative brain disease. Doctors told him it was Alzheimer's, but Singeltary was suspicious. The diagnosis didn't fit her violent symptoms, and he demanded an autopsy. It showed she had died of sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Most doctors believe that sCJD is caused by a prion protein deforming by chance into a killer. But Singeltary thinks otherwise. He is one of a number of campaigners who say that some sCJD, like the variant CJD related to BSE, is caused by eating meat from infected animals. Their suspicions have focused on sheep carrying scrapie, a BSE-like disease that is widespread in flocks across Europe and North America.

Now scientists in France have stumbled across new evidence that adds weight to the campaigners' fears. To their complete surprise, the researchers found that one strain of scrapie causes the same brain damage in ...

R.I.P. MOM hvCJD confirmed DECEMBER 14, 1997