T-Tau and P-Tau in brain and blood from natural and experimental prion diseases

Richard Rubenstein, Binggong Chang, Robert Petersen, Allen Chiu, Peter Davies

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4 Scopus citations


Synaptic abnormalities are prominent in prion disease pathogenesis and are responsible for functional deficits. The microtubule associated protein, Tau, binds to and stabilizes microtubules in axons ensuring axonal transport of synaptic components. Tau phosphorylation reduces its affinity for microtubules leading to their instability and resulting in disrupted axonal transport and synaptic dysfunction. We report on the levels of total Tau (T-Tau) and phosphorylated Tau (P-Tau), measured by highly sensitive laser-based immunoassays, in the central nervous system and biofluids from experimentally transmitted prion disease in mice and natural cases of sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (sCJD) in humans. We found that, in contrast to sCJD where only the levels of T-Tau in brain are increased, both TTau and P-Tau are increased in the brains of symptomatic mice experimentally infected with the ME7, 139A and 22L mouse-adapted scrapie strains. The increased levels of T-Tau in sCJD brain, compared to control samples, were also observed in patient plasma. In contrast, there was no detectable increase in T-Tau and P-Tau in plasma from symptomatic experimentally infected mice. Furthermore, our data suggests that in mice showing clinical signs of prion disease the levels and/or ratios of T-Tau and P-Tau are only a useful parameter for differentiating the mouse-adapted scrapie strains that differ in the extent of disease. We conclude that the neuropathogenesis associated with P-Tau and synaptic dysfunction is similar for at least two of the mouse-adapted scrapie strains tested but may differ between sporadic and experimentally transmitted prion diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number0143103
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


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