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J Infect Dis. 1998 Oct;178(4):949-53.

Scrapie infectivity and proteinase K-resistant prion protein in sheep placenta, brain, spleen, and lymph node: implications for transmission and antemortem diagnosis.

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Laboratory of Persistent Viral Diseases, Rocky Mountain Laboratories, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Hamilton, Montana, 59840, USA.


Probable transmission of bovine spongiform encephalopathy to humans has focused intense interest on all of the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) and how they spread. In all TSEs, an abnormal disease-associated, proteinase K-resistant protein referred to as PrP-res or PrPsc accumulates in brain. In some species, PrP-res accumulates in other tissues as well. Sheep placenta, brain, spleen, and lymph node were analyzed in detail for PrP-res and infectivity. Both were detected in all brain and spleen samples and in placenta and lymph nodes of 80% of the scrapie-infected sheep. A perfect correlation was observed between infectivity and PrP-res detection. These results substantiate the probability that placenta plays an important role in natural transmission of scrapie, suggest that analysis of placenta for PrP-res could be the basis for an antemortem test for sheep scrapie, and show that PrP-res, scrapie infectivity, and scrapie disease are closely associated.

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