“Mad cow” disease: can be transmitted to other species?

A paper recently published by researchers of CReSA, in collaboration with other institutions, suggest that caution must be taken when considering the use of any mammal derived protein in feedstuffs. The reason is the risk of transmission to other species, as dogs and rabbits.

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as “mad cow” disease, is a lethal neurodegenerative disease of bovines, belonging to a group of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopaties (TSE) caused by protein particles called prions.

The prion responsible for the BSE shows unique features when compared with other prions. One of these features is its ability to infect almost all experimentally tested animal models. In the paper previously published in The Journal of Neuroscience this group of research describes a series of experiments directed toward elucidating which would be the in vivo behavior of BSE if it would infect dogs and rabbits, two alleged prion resistant species.

The remarkable adaptation ability of certain prions implies that any new host species could lead to the emergence of new infectious agents with unpredictable transmission potential. Our results suggest that caution must be taken when considering the use of any mammal derived protein in feedstuffs.

Brain spongyform change.

This work from Dr Enric Vidal, researcher of CReSA, counts with the participation of researchers from the Centro Nacional de Biotecnología (CNB)-CSIC and Centro de Investigación en Sanidad Animal (CISA)-INIA, Madrid, Centro de Investigación Cooperativa en Biociencias (CICbioGUNE), Bilbao, and Departamento de Medicina y Cirugía Animal de la UAB, Barcelona. It has been recently published in: Vidal E, Fernández-Borges N, Pintado B, Ordóñez M, Márquez M, Fondevila D, Eraña H, Torres JM, Pumarola M, Castilla J. Exploring the risks of a putative transmission of BSE to new species. Prion. 2013 Nov 1;7(6).

Download the full paper: http://www.jneurosci.org/content/33/18/7778.long

Related paper: Vidal E, Fernández-Borges N, Pintado B, Ordóñez M, Márquez M, Fondevila D, Torres JM, Pumarola M, Castilla J. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy induces misfolding of alleged prion-resistant species cellular prion protein without altering its pathobiological features. J Neurosci. 2013 May 1;33(18):7778-86.

Related new: Can dog and rabbits go mad as cows do?

More information: Portal sobre BSE de l’OIE

Contact the principal investigator of prion diseases at CReSA:

Dr. Enric Vidal Barba
Investigador
Correu electrònic: enric.vidal@cresa.uab.cat
Telèfon: +34 93 581 45 26
Fax: +34 93 581 44 90
Edifici CReSA. Campus UAB
08193 Bellaterra (Cerdanyola del Vallès) Spain

 
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