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Lab Invest. 2009 Apr;89(4):406-13. doi: 10.1038/labinvest.2008.169. Epub 2009 Feb 2.

Rapid diagnosis of human prion disease using streptomycin with tonsil and brain tissues.

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  • 1Neurobiology Department, Groupement Hospitalier Est, Hospices Civils de Lyon, Lyon, France.


The use of streptomycin in the pathological prion protein (PrP(sc)) detection procedures represents a new and attractive way for diagnostic purpose. With this agent, western blot readily detected PrP(sc) in 263K scrapie hamster and C57Bl/6 wild-type mice challenged with C506M3 scrapie strain. Our aim was to evaluate this new diagnosis procedure in the field of human transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). First, we had confirmed the ability of streptomycin to precipitate PrP(res) from human brain of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) patient. Second, we compared the detection of PrP(res) with streptomycin against three other protocols using other precipitations. Then we assessed PrP(res) detection with streptomycin in 98 brain tissue samples from various aetiologies of human TSEs and 52 brain samples from other dementia. Finally, we applied this protocol for tonsils examination of five patients suspected of variant CJD (v-CJD). Sensitivity and specificity obtained with the streptomycin protocol were both 100% on brain tissue. For tonsil tissues, PrP(res) was clearly identified in the two post-mortem confirmed v-CJD cases, whereas no characteristic three-band pattern was seen in the three confirmed non-v-CJD samples. In this study, streptomycin demonstrated its efficiency to detect PrP(res) both in the central nervous system and in the lymphoid tissue without practical difficulty and with rapid preparation. Because of its ability to act as a good agent for PrP(sc) examination in different tissues, recovery of PrP(sc) in biological fluids using streptomycin should open further perspectives of applications in CJD diagnostics. Streptomycin effects in vivo might thus also be questioned.

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