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Zoonoses Public Health. 2012 Jun;59(4):251-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1863-2378.2012.01455.x. Epub 2012 Feb 21.

Stability of bovine spongiform encephalopathy prions: absence of prion protein degradation by bovine gut microbiota.

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Institute for Microbiology and Biotechnology, Max-Rubner-Institute, Federal Research Institute for Nutrition and Food, Kulmbach, Germany.


Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is transmitted by the oral route. However, the impacts of anaerobic fermentation processes in cattle on the stability of BSE-associated prion protein (PrP(Sc)) are still unresolved. In this study, experiments were designed to assess the ability of complex ruminal and colonic contents of bovines to degrade BSE-derived PrP(Sc). No significant decrease in PrP(Sc) levels in BSE brain homogenates was detected by Western blotting after up to 66 h of co-incubation with intestinal fluids. These results indicate that BSE-associated PrP(Sc) survive gastrointestinal digestion processes in cattle and might be excreted via faeces.

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