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J Comp Pathol. 2001 Nov;125(4):271-84.

Differential diagnosis of infections with the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and scrapie agents in sheep.

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  • 1Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA), VLA Lasswade, Pentlands Science Park, Bush Loan, Penicuik, Midlothian, EH26 OPZ, UK.


Scrapie, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease belong to the group of disorders called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies or prion diseases. The possibility that some sheep may be infected with the BSE agent is of human and animal health concern. Immunohistochemical methods were used to identify specific prion protein (PrP) peptide sequences in specific cell types of the brain and lymphoreticular system (LRS) of sheep with natural scrapie and Suffolk and Romney sheep infected experimentally with the BSE agent. Clinically affected and some pre-clinical cases of BSE infection could be distinguished from scrapie cases by the lesser amount of labelling of PrP containing the 84-102 amino-acid peptide sequences in phagocytic cells of the LRS and brain. Additionally, BSE-infected sheep had higher degrees of intra-neuronal PrP accumulation in the brain, as detected by labelling for a range of PrP peptide sequences. These results suggest that there is strain-dependent processing of PrP in specific cell types within the nervous system and LRS which can be used to distinguish BSE- and scrapie-infected sheep.

Copyright Harcourt Publishers Ltd.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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