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PLoS One. 2013 Nov 1;8(11):e80203. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0080203. eCollection 2013.

In vitro detection of prionemia in TSE-infected cervids and hamsters.

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Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, United States of America.


Blood-borne transmission of infectious prions during the symptomatic and asymptomatic stages of disease occurs for both human and animal transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). The geographical distribution of the cervid TSE, chronic wasting disease (CWD), continues to spread across North America and the prospective number of individuals harboring an asymptomatic infection of human variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) in the United Kingdom has been projected to be ~1 in 3000 residents. Thus, it is important to monitor cervid and human blood products to ensure herd health and human safety. Current methods for detecting blood-associated prions rely primarily upon bioassay in laboratory animals. While bioassay provides high sensitivity and specificity, it requires many months, animals, and it is costly. Here we report modification of the real time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC) assay to detect blood-borne prions in whole blood from prion-infected preclinical white-tailed deer, muntjac deer, and Syrian hamsters, attaining sensitivity of >90% while maintaining 100% specificity. Our results indicate that RT-QuIC methodology as modified can provide consistent and reliable detection of blood-borne prions in preclinical and symptomatic stages of two animal TSEs, offering promise for prionemia detection in other species, including humans.

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