Prions, infectious agents associated with prion diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle, are primarily comprised of PrPSc, a protease-resistant misfolded isoform of the cellular prion protein PrPC. Protein misfolding cyclic amplification (PMCA) is a highly sensitive technique used to detect minute amounts of scrapie PrPSc. However, the current PMCA technique has been unsuccessful in achieving good amplification in cattle. The detailed distribution of PrPSc in BSE-affected cattle therefore remains unknown. We report that PrPSc derived from BSE-affected cattle can be amplified ultra-efficiently by PMCA in the presence of sulfated dextran compounds. This method is capable of amplifying very small amounts of PrPSc from the saliva, palatine tonsils, lymph nodes, ileocecal region, and muscular tissues of BSE-affected cattle. Individual differences in the distribution of PrPSc in spleen and cerebrospinal fluid samples were observed in terminal-stage animals. However, the presence of PrPSc in blood was not substantiated in the BSE-affected cattle examined. The finding that PrPSc could be amplified in the saliva of an asymptomatic animal suggests a potential usefulness of this technique for BSE diagnosis. This highly sensitive method also has other practical applications, including safety evaluation or safety assurance of products and by-products manufactured from bovine source materials.
(Research Center for Prion Diseases)
Murayama Y. et al. (2010) PLoS ONE, 5: e131526