Prion diseases, or transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), are a class of fatal neurodegenerative diseases caused by the entry and spread of infectious prion proteins (PrPSc) in the central nervous system (CNS). These diseases are endemic to certain mammalian animal species that use their sense of smell for a variety of purposes and therefore expose their nasal cavity (NC) to PrPSc in the environment. Prion diseases that affect humans are either inherited due to a mutation of the gene that encodes the prion protein, acquired by exposure to contaminated tissues or medical devices, or develop without a known cause (referred to as sporadic). The purpose of this review is to identify components of the NC that are involved in prion transport and to summarize the evidence that the NC serves as a route of entry (centripetal spread) and/or a source of shedding (centrifugal spread) of PrPSc, and thus plays a role in the pathogenesis of the TSEs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Infectious Diseases