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      The natural atypical scrapie phenotype is preserved on experimental transmission and sub-passage in PRNP homologous sheep

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          Abstract

          Background

          Atypical scrapie was first identified in Norwegian sheep in 1998 and has subsequently been identified in many countries. Retrospective studies have identified cases predating the initial identification of this form of scrapie, and epidemiological studies have indicated that it does not conform to the behaviour of an infectious disease, giving rise to the hypothesis that it represents spontaneous disease.

          However, atypical scrapie isolates have been shown to be infectious experimentally, through intracerebral inoculation in transgenic mice and sheep. The first successful challenge of a sheep with 'field' atypical scrapie from an homologous donor sheep was reported in 2007.

          Results

          This study demonstrates that atypical scrapie has distinct clinical, pathological and biochemical characteristics which are maintained on transmission and sub-passage, and which are distinct from other strains of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies in the same host genotype.

          Conclusions

          Atypical scrapie is consistently transmissible within AHQ homozygous sheep, and the disease phenotype is preserved on sub-passage.

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          Most cited references27

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          Cases of scrapie with unusual features in Norway and designation of a new type, Nor98.

          Five cases of scrapie with unusual features have been diagnosed in Norway since 1998. The affected sheep showed neurological signs dominated by ataxia, and had the PrP genotypes homozygous A136 H154 Q171/ A136H154Q171 or heterozygous A136H154Q171/A136R154Q171, which are rarely associated with scrapie. Brain histopathology revealed neuropil vacuolisation essentially in the cerebellar and cerebral cortices; vacuolation was less prominent in the brainstem, and no lesions were observed at the level of the obex. The deposits of PrPSc were mainly in the cortex of the cerebellum and cerebrum, and no PrPSC was detectable by immunohistochemistry and ELISA in the lymphoid tissues investigated. Western blot analysis showed that the glycotype was different from other known scrapie strains and from the BSE strain. From a diagnostic point of view, these features indicate that this type of scrapie, designated Nor98, could have been overlooked and may be of significance for sampling in scrapie surveillance programmes.
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            A newly identified type of scrapie agent can naturally infect sheep with resistant PrP genotypes.

            Scrapie in small ruminants belongs to transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), or prion diseases, a family of fatal neurodegenerative disorders that affect humans and animals and can transmit within and between species by ingestion or inoculation. Conversion of the host-encoded prion protein (PrP), normal cellular PrP (PrP(c)), into a misfolded form, abnormal PrP (PrP(Sc)), plays a key role in TSE transmission and pathogenesis. The intensified surveillance of scrapie in the European Union, together with the improvement of PrP(Sc) detection techniques, has led to the discovery of a growing number of so-called atypical scrapie cases. These include clinical Nor98 cases first identified in Norwegian sheep on the basis of unusual pathological and PrP(Sc) molecular features and "cases" that produced discordant responses in the rapid tests currently applied to the large-scale random screening of slaughtered or fallen animals. Worryingly, a substantial proportion of such cases involved sheep with PrP genotypes known until now to confer natural resistance to conventional scrapie. Here we report that both Nor98 and discordant cases, including three sheep homozygous for the resistant PrP(ARR) allele (A(136)R(154)R(171)), efficiently transmitted the disease to transgenic mice expressing ovine PrP, and that they shared unique biological and biochemical features upon propagation in mice. These observations support the view that a truly infectious TSE agent, unrecognized until recently, infects sheep and goat flocks and may have important implications in terms of scrapie control and public health.
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              Atypical/Nor98 scrapie: properties of the agent, genetics, and epidemiology.

              Atypical/Nor98 scrapie cases in sheep were diagnosed for the first time in Norway in 1998. They are now identified in small ruminants in most European countries and represent an increasingly large proportion of the scrapie cases diagnosed in Europe. Atypical/Nor98 scrapie isolates have shown to be experimentally transmissible into transgenic mice and sheep but the properties of the TSE agent involved, like its biological and biochemical features, are so clearly distinct from the agent involved in classical scrapie that they have provided a challenging diagnostic for many years. No strain diversity has yet been identified among the atypical/Nor98 scrapie sample cases. The genetic predisposition of the sheep affected by atypical/Nor98 scrapie is almost inverted compared to classical scrapie, and the exact origin of this sporadic TSE strain is still speculative, but a spontaneous, non-contagious origin, like sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans, can not be excluded. Further transmission and epidemiological studies are needed to better address this hypothesis.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                BMC Vet Res
                BMC Veterinary Research
                BioMed Central
                1746-6148
                2010
                10 March 2010
                : 6
                : 14
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Pathology, Veterinary Laboratories Agency Weybridge, New Haw, Addlestone KT15 3NB, UK
                [2 ]Molecular Pathogenesis and Genetics Department, Veterinary Laboratories Agency Weybridge, New Haw, Addlestone KT15 3NB, UK
                Article
                1746-6148-6-14
                10.1186/1746-6148-6-14
                2848638
                20219126
                4c8367b6-e1c3-4e9b-b540-036740c80e71
                Copyright ©2010 Simmons et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                History
                : 26 October 2009
                : 10 March 2010
                Categories
                Research article

                Veterinary medicine
                Veterinary medicine

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