Cerebellar compartmentation of prion pathogenesis

Audrey Ragagnin, Juliette Ezpeleta, Aurélie Guillemain, François Boudet-Devaud, Anne-Marie Haeberlé, Valérie Demais, Catherine Vidal, Stanislas Demuth, Vincent Béringue, Odile Kellermann, Benoit Schneider, Nancy J. Grant, Yannick Bailly*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


In prion diseases, the brain lesion profile is influenced by the prion "strain" properties, the invasion route to the brain, and still unknown host cell-specific parameters. To gain insight into those endogenous factors, we analyzed the histopathological alterations induced by distinct prion strains in the mouse cerebellum. We show that 22L and ME7 scrapie prion proteins (PrP22L, PrPME7), but not bovine spongiform encephalopathy PrP6PB1, accumulate in a reproducible parasagittal banding pattern in the cerebellar cortex of infected mice. Such banding pattern of PrP22L aggregation did not depend on the neuroinvasion route, but coincided with the parasagittal compartmentation of the cerebellum mostly defined by the expression of zebrins, such as aldolase C and the excitatory amino acid transporter 4, in Purkinje cells. We provide evidence that Purkinje cells display a differential, subtype-specific vulnerability to 22L prions with zebrin-expressing Purkinje cells being more resistant to prion toxicity, while in stripes where PrP22L accumulated most zebrin-deficient Purkinje cells are lost and spongiosis accentuated. In addition, in PrP22L stripes, enhanced reactive astrocyte processes associated with microglia activation support interdependent events between the topographic pattern of Purkinje cell death, reactive gliosis and PrP22L accumulation. Finally, we find that in preclinically-ill mice prion infection promotes at the membrane of astrocytes enveloping Purkinje cell excitatory synapses, upregulation of tumor necrosis factor-α receptor type 1 (TNFR1), a key mediator of the neuroinflammation process. These overall data show that Purkinje cell sensitivity to prion insult is locally restricted by the parasagittal compartmentation of the cerebellum, and that perisynaptic astrocytes may contribute to prion pathogenesis through prion-induced TNFR1 upregulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-263
Number of pages24
JournalBrain Pathology
Issue number2
Early online date7 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Cerebellar compartmentation
  • Inflammation
  • Prion
  • Purkinje cell
  • Zebrin


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