Progression of prion infectivity in asymptomatic cattle after oral bovine spongiform encephalopathy challenge
The presence of BSE prion infectivity in asymptomatic cattle and its tissue distribution are important concerns for both human and veterinary health and food safety. In this work, a collection of tissues from asymptomatic cattle challenged orally with BSE and culled at 20, 24, 27, 30 and 33 months have been used to inoculate intracerebrally BoPrP-Tg110 mice expressing bovine PrP to assess their infectivity. Results demonstrate that BSE infectivity in asymptomatic cattle is essentially restricted to the nervous system, Peyer’s patches and tonsils, as reported previously for terminally BSE-diseased cattle. BSE infectivity was detectable in Peyer’s patches and tonsils at all time points analysed, but infectivity in nervous tissues (brainstem and sciatic nerve) was only detectable after 27 months from inoculation. Infectivity in brainstem increased markedly at 33 months after inoculation. All other investigated tissues or fluids (spleen, skeletal muscle, blood and urine) revealed no detectable infectivity throughout the time course studied.