Classical BSE prions emerge from asymptomatic pigs challenged with atypical/Nor98 scrapie

Belén Marín, Alicia Otero*, Séverine Lugan, Juan Carlos Espinosa, Alba Marín-Moreno, Enric Vidal, Carlos Hedman, Antonio Romero, Martí Pumarola, Juan J. Badiola, Juan María Torres, Olivier Andréoletti, Rosa Bolea

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Pigs are susceptible to infection with the classical bovine spongiform encephalopathy (C-BSE) agent following experimental inoculation, and PrPSc accumulation was detected in porcine tissues after the inoculation of certain scrapie and chronic wasting disease isolates. However, a robust transmission barrier has been described in this species and, although they were exposed to C-BSE agent in many European countries, no cases of natural transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) infections have been reported in pigs. Transmission of atypical scrapie to bovinized mice resulted in the emergence of C-BSE prions. Here, we conducted a study to determine if pigs are susceptible to atypical scrapie. To this end, 12, 8–9-month-old minipigs were intracerebrally inoculated with two atypical scrapie sources. Animals were euthanized between 22- and 72-months post inoculation without clinical signs of TSE. All pigs tested negative for PrPSc accumulation by enzyme immunoassay, immunohistochemistry, western blotting and bioassay in porcine PrP mice. Surprisingly, in vitro protein misfolding cyclic amplification demonstrated the presence of C-BSE prions in different brain areas from seven pigs inoculated with both atypical scrapie isolates. Our results suggest that pigs exposed to atypical scrapie prions could become a reservoir for C-BSE and corroborate that C-BSE prions emerge during interspecies passage of atypical scrapie.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17428
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2021


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