Nature Reviews Microbiology 4, 201-211 (March 2006) | doi:10.1038/nrmicro1346

Prions and their lethal journey to the brain

Neil A. Mabbott1 & G. Gordon MacPherson2  About the authors


Prion diseases are neurodegenerative conditions that cause extensive damage to nerve cells within the brain and can be fatal. Some prion disease agents accumulate first in lymphoid tissues, as they make their journey from the site of infection, such as the gut, to the brain. Studies in mouse models have shown that this accumulation is obligatory for the efficient delivery of prions to the brain. Indeed, if the accumulation of prions in lymphoid tissues is blocked, disease susceptibility is reduced. Therefore, the identification of the cells and molecules that are involved in the delivery of prions to the brain might identify targets for therapeutic intervention. This review describes the current understanding of the mechanisms involved in the delivery of prions to the brain.

Author affiliations

  1. Institute for Animal Health, Ogston Building, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JF, UK.
  2. Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3RE, UK.

Correspondence to: Neil A. Mabbott1 Email:

Published online 6 February 2006


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