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J Virol. 2011 Jul;85(13):6309-18. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00425-11. Epub 2011 Apr 27.

Detection of chronic wasting disease prions in salivary, urinary, and intestinal tissues of deer: potential mechanisms of prion shedding and transmission.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA.

Abstract

Efficient horizontal transmission is a signature trait of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in cervids. Infectious prions shed into excreta appear to play a key role in this facile transmission, as has been demonstrated by bioassays of cervid and transgenic species and serial protein misfolding cyclic amplification (sPMCA). However, the source(s) of infectious prions in these body fluids has yet to be identified. In the present study, we analyzed tissues proximate to saliva, urine, and fecal production by sPMCA in an attempt to elucidate this unique aspect of CWD pathogenesis. Oropharyngeal, urogenital, and gastrointestinal tissues along with blood and obex from CWD-exposed cervids (comprising 27 animals and >350 individual samples) were analyzed and scored based on the apparent relative CWD burden. PrP(CWD)-generating activity was detected in a range of tissues and was highest in the salivary gland, urinary bladder, and distal intestinal tract. In the same assays, blood from the same animals and unseeded normal brain homogenate controls (n = 116 of 117) remained negative. The PrP-converting activity in peripheral tissues varied from 10(-11)- to 10(0)-fold of that found in brain of the same animal. Deer with highest levels of PrP(CWD) amplification in the brain had higher and more widely disseminated prion amplification in excretory tissues. Interestingly, PrP(CWD) was not demonstrable in these excretory tissues by conventional Western blotting, suggesting a low prion burden or the presence of protease-sensitive infectious prions destroyed by harsh proteolytic treatments. These findings offer unique insights into the transmission of CWD in particular and prion infection and trafficking overall.

PMID:
21525361
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3126547
Free PMC Article

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