prion disease catalysed by immune system? 
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 prion disease catalysed by immune system?

I was reading Professor Stanley B Prusiner's very interesting article
in the January Scientific American when an idea occurred to me about
how the disease might reproduce. Forgive me if this is old hat and been
dismissed before. you might find it gives an idea even if wrong

The thing that got me was that the reproduction of the scrapie prion was
so specific, when a mouse had a prepensity for two different ones it only
got the form it was injected with.  The picture in the article of the
prion reproducing in a crystal like manner was not convincing, also it
really didn't explain why the spongiform was so uniform rather than being
concentrated around the original site or along some channels. Also it was
interesting that it happened in the nervous system.

These things together make me think that the immune system has a part in it.
What I think may be happening is that when the scrapie prion is introduced
the body reacts by producing antibody which conforms to the shape of the
scrapie, but since only part of the immune system works in the brain it
doesn't manage to bind properly there.  However when the antibody meets
a normal PrP molecule the shape of the antibody encourages the scrapie
form to be made.

Thus the scrapie form made will be determined very closely and with
species barrier between forms.  The scrapie will also be distributed
widely within the nervous system because the antibodies have as a duty
to go everywhere. However elsewhere in the body the scrapie form would
be mopped up by the white {*filter*} cells because of the antigen match.

This would be fairly simple to test as animals with a defective immune
system should not get scrapie, I'm sure there must be even simpler tests
too.  That I'm afraid is also what makes me doubt it - I'm sure
someone would have noticed an effect related to this and so have made
this connection if it exists.

All the usual disclaimers, and anyway you can't possibly believe my
company has any attitued at all on this matter?



Fri, 11 Jul 1997 18:48:38 GMT
 
 [ 1 post ] 

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