1887

Abstract

It is widely accepted that abnormal forms of the prion protein (PrP) are the best surrogate marker for the infectious agent of prion diseases and, in practice, the detection of such disease-associated (PrP) and/or protease-resistant (PrP) forms of PrP is the cornerstone of diagnosis and surveillance of the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). Nevertheless, some studies question the consistent association between infectivity and abnormal PrP detection. To address this discrepancy, 11 brain samples of sheep affected with natural scrapie or experimental bovine spongiform encephalopathy were selected on the basis of the magnitude and predominant types of PrP accumulation, as shown by immunohistochemical (IHC) examination; contra-lateral hemi-brain samples were inoculated at three different dilutions into transgenic mice overexpressing ovine PrP and were also subjected to quantitative analysis by three biochemical tests (BCTs). Six samples gave ‘low’ infectious titres (10 to 10 LD g) and five gave ‘high titres’ (10 to ≥10 LD g) and, with the exception of the Western blot analysis, those two groups tended to correspond with samples with lower PrP/PrP results by IHC/BCTs. However, no statistical association could be confirmed due to high individual sample variability. It is concluded that although detection of abnormal forms of PrP by laboratory methods remains useful to confirm TSE infection, infectivity titres cannot be predicted from quantitative test results, at least for the TSE sources and host genotypes used in this study. Furthermore, the near inverse correlation between infectious titres and Western blot results (high protease pre-treatment) argues for a dissociation between infectivity and PrP.

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2012-11-01
2021-07-24
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