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Emerg Infect Dis. 2009 May;15(5):696-703. doi: 10.3201/eid1505.081458.

Chronic wasting disease prions in elk antler velvet.

Author information

  • 1University of Kentucky Medical Center, Lexington, 40536, USA.

Abstract

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a contagious, fatal prion disease of deer and elk that continues to emerge in new locations. To explore the means by which prions are transmitted with high efficiency among cervids, we examined prion infectivity in the apical skin layer covering the growing antler (antler velvet) by using CWD-susceptible transgenic mice and protein misfolding cyclic amplification. Our finding of prions in antler velvet of CWD-affected elk suggests that this tissue may play a role in disease transmission among cervids. Humans who consume antler velvet as a nutritional supplement are at risk for exposure to prions. The fact that CWD prion incubation times in transgenic mice expressing elk prion protein are consistently more rapid raises the possibility that residue 226, the sole primary structural difference between deer and elk prion protein, may be a major determinant of CWD pathogenesis.

PMID:
19402954
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2687044
Free PMC Article

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