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Prion protein in milk


Abstract

BACKGROUND: Prions are known to cause transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) after accumulation in the central nervous system. There is increasing evidence that prions are also present in body fluids and that prion infection by blood transmission is possible. The low concentration of the proteinaceous agent in body fluids and its long incubation time complicate epidemiologic analysis and estimation of spreading and thus the risk of human infection. This situation is particularly unsatisfactory for food and pharmaceutical industries, given the lack of sensitive tools for monitoring the infectious agent.
METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We have developed an adsorption matrix, Alicon PrioTrap, which binds with high affinity and specificity to prion proteins. Thus we were able to identify prion protein (PrP(C))--the precursor of prions (PrP(Sc))--in milk from humans, cows, sheep, and goats. The absolute amount of PrP(C) differs between the species (from microg/l range in sheep to ng/l range in human milk). PrP(C) is also found in homogenised and pasteurised off-the-shelf milk, and even ultrahigh temperature treatment only partially diminishes endogenous PrP(C) concentration.
CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: In view of a recent study showing evidence of prion replication occurring in the mammary gland of scrapie infected sheep suffering from mastitis, the appearance of PrP(C) in milk implies the possibility that milk of TSE-infected animals serves as source for PrP(Sc).

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Prions are known to cause transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) after accumulation in the central nervous system. There is increasing evidence that prions are also present in body fluids and that prion infection by blood transmission is possible. The low concentration of the proteinaceous agent in body fluids and its long incubation time complicate epidemiologic analysis and estimation of spreading and thus the risk of human infection. This situation is particularly unsatisfactory for food and pharmaceutical industries, given the lack of sensitive tools for monitoring the infectious agent.
METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We have developed an adsorption matrix, Alicon PrioTrap, which binds with high affinity and specificity to prion proteins. Thus we were able to identify prion protein (PrP(C))--the precursor of prions (PrP(Sc))--in milk from humans, cows, sheep, and goats. The absolute amount of PrP(C) differs between the species (from microg/l range in sheep to ng/l range in human milk). PrP(C) is also found in homogenised and pasteurised off-the-shelf milk, and even ultrahigh temperature treatment only partially diminishes endogenous PrP(C) concentration.
CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: In view of a recent study showing evidence of prion replication occurring in the mammary gland of scrapie infected sheep suffering from mastitis, the appearance of PrP(C) in milk implies the possibility that milk of TSE-infected animals serves as source for PrP(Sc).

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Veterinary Clinic > Department of Farm Animals
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
630 Agriculture
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
Life Sciences > General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Health Sciences > Multidisciplinary
Language:English
Date:20 December 2006
Deposited On:28 Mar 2019 15:59
Last Modified:13 May 2020 23:06
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1932-6203
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0000071
PubMed ID:17183703

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