Background: Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) are rare neurodegenerative disorders that affect animals and humans. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle, and Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease (CJD) in humans belong to this group. The causative agent of TSEs is called “prion”, which corresponds to a pathological form (PrPSc) of a normal cellular protein (PrPC) expressed in nerve cells. PrPSc is resistant to degradation and can induce abnormal folding of PrPC, and TSEs are characterized by extensive spongiosis and gliosis and the presence of PrPSc amyloid plaques. CJD presents initially with clinical symptoms similar to Alzheimer's disease (AD). In AD, tau aggregates and amyloid-β protein plaques are associated with memory loss and cognitive impairment in patients. Objective: In this work, we study the role of tau and its relationship with PrPSc plaques in CJD. Methods: Multiple immunostainings with specific antibodies were carried out and analyzed by confocal microscopy. Results: We found increased expression of the glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP-9), and an exacerbated apoptosis in the granular layer in cases with prion disease. In these cases, tau protein phosphorylated at Thr-231 was overexpressed in the axons and dendrites of Purkinje cells and the extensions of parallel fibers of the cerebellum. Conclusion: We conclude that phosphorylation of tau may be a response to the toxic and inflammatory environment generated by the pathological form of prion.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: The authors want to express their gratitude to the following: Dr. P. Davies † (Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY, USA) and Lester I. Binder † (North Western, Chicago, IL, USA) for the generous gift of mAbs TG-3 and Alz-50, and Tau-1, Tau-5 and Tau-7, respectively; Tec. Amparo Viramontes Pintos for the handling of the brain tissue; support in the confocal microscopy unit of CIIDIR Durango, Instituto Politécnico Nacional; Union Medica University Clinic, Dominican Republic, for their support and collaboration in the development of this research project. We also want to express our gratitude to the Mexican families who have donated the brain of their loved ones affected with Alzheimer's disease and made our research possible. This work is dedicated to the memory of Professor Dr. José Raúl Mena López †. †Deceased.
This work was supported by Fondo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia, FONDOCyT, from the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Dominican Republic (2015-3A2-127 to MP-H) and (2018-2019-2A3-208 to JL-M and MP-H).
- neuronal death
- prion encephalopathy
- prion protein
- tau protein