The American journal of pathology

Uptake and degradation of protease-sensitive and -resistant forms of abnormal human prion protein aggregates by human astrocytes.

PMID 25280631


Sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is the most common of the human prion diseases, a group of rare, transmissible, and fatal neurologic diseases associated with the accumulation of an abnormal form (PrP(Sc)) of the host prion protein. In sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, disease-associated PrP(Sc) is present not only as an aggregated, protease-resistant form but also as an aggregated protease-sensitive form (sPrP(Sc)). Although evidence suggests that sPrP(Sc) may play a role in prion pathogenesis, little is known about how it interacts with cells during prion infection. Here, we show that protease-sensitive abnormal PrP aggregates derived from patients with sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease are taken up and degraded by immortalized human astrocytes similarly to abnormal PrP aggregates that are resistant to proteases. Our data suggest that relative proteinase K resistance does not significantly influence the astrocyte's ability to degrade PrP(Sc). Furthermore, the cell does not appear to distinguish between sPrP(Sc) and protease-resistant PrP(Sc), suggesting that sPrP(Sc) could contribute to prion infection.