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News

Prions found in unexpected organs of infected mice

American Association For The Advancement Of Science (AAAS) : 15 July, 2006  (Company News)
Prions, the misfolded proteins implicated in mad cow disease, have been discovered in kidney, pancreas and liver tissues of prion-infected mice with chronic inflammation. These findings highlight the possibility that prions in farm animals with ongoing inflammatory conditions could move from their known range, in nervous and lymphoid tissues, to unexpected organs.
Prions, the misfolded proteins implicated in mad cow disease, have been discovered in kidney, pancreas and liver tissues of prion-infected mice with chronic inflammation. These findings highlight the possibility that prions in farm animals with ongoing inflammatory conditions could move from their known range, in nervous and lymphoid tissues, to unexpected organs.

Nervous system tissues such as the brain and spinal cord as well as immune-system or 'lymphoid' organs including the thymus, lymph nodes and spleen have been excluded from the food chain with the aim of protecting public health. The international team of researchers now reports that chronic inflammation enabled prion replication in otherwise prion-free livers, kidneys and pancreases due to the infiltration of prion-infected immune cells.

Prior to this study, prions were already known for their remarkable affinity for cells of the immune system, suggesting that inflammation may allow for the spread of prions to areas beyond lymphoid and nervous system tissues.
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