Enrichment of prion protein in exosomes derived from ovine cerebral spinal fluid Academic Article uri icon


  • Prion diseases are transmissible neurodegenerative disorders affecting humans and a wide variety of animal species including sheep and cattle. The transmissible agent, the prion, is an abnormally folded form (PrP(Sc)) of the host encoded cellular prion protein (PrP(C)). Distribution of the prion protein in the fluids of species susceptible to these diseases is of importance to human health and the iatrogenic spread of prion disease. Aside from blood which is confirmed to be a source of prion infectivity, it is currently unclear which other body fluids harbor a significant transmission risk. In the current study we examined two ovine fluids; pseudo-afferent lymph and cerebral spinal fluid (CSF), for the presence of exosomes and concurrent enrichment of the normal, cellular form of the prion protein (PrP(C)). Here we demonstrate the existence of exosomes in both pseudo-afferent lymph and CSF isolated from sheep. In the CSF derived exosomes we were able to show an enrichment of PrP(C) over unfractionated CSF. This experimental approach suggests that CSF derived exosomes could be used as a novel means of detecting abnormal forms of the prion protein and provide an in vivo link between these vesicles and prion disease pathogenesis.


  • Vella, Laura J
  • Greenwood, Deanne LV
  • Cappai, Roberto
  • Scheerlinck, Jean-Pierre Y
  • Hill, Andrew F

publication date

  • August 2008