Features of follicular dendritic cells in ovine pharyngeal tonsil: An in vivo and in vitro study in the context of scrapie pathogenesis

Vinciane Toppets, Valerie Defaweux, Joelle Piret, Nathalie Kirschvink, Luc Grobet, Nadine Antoine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although the alimentary tract has been suggested as the most likely portal of entry in natural scrapie, a growing amount of data indicates that the respiratory system and more specifically the pharyngeal tonsils serve as a natural portal of entry for scrapie.This study describes for the first time the broad cell populations in the lymphoid compartment of pharyngeal tonsils and more specifically inside the lymphoid follicles where the scrapie agent accumulates during the period of latency.Follicular dendritic cells (FDCs), stromal cells located in the light zone of the germinal centre of lymphoid follicles, seem to be the principal causal factor in the accumulation of the infectious agent in transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) diseases. Knowing that efficient lymphoreticular prion propagation requires PrPc expression, we analysed the expression of PrPc with the mouse monoclonal antibody Pri 909 both in situ and on FDC-cluster-enriched cell suspensions.In situ, a positive staining was observed in the germinal centre of pharyngeal lymph follicles. The germinal centre labelling was due to the presence of a follicular dendritic network as revealed after immunogold staining of isolated FDC clusters. Our results suggest that the pharyngeal lymphoreticular system and more specifically PrPc expressing follicular dendritic cells could serve as a prion " reservoir" during the latency phase, thus playing a key role during the scrapie lymphoinvasion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-32
Number of pages7
JournalVeterinary immunology and immunopathology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2011


  • Anti-FDC antibodies
  • Follicular dendritic cell
  • Pharyngeal tonsil
  • Scrapie
  • Sheep


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