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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » National Animal Disease Center » Virus and Prion Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #315505

Title: Comparison of two US sheep scrapie isolates supports identification as separate strains

item Nicholson, Eric
item Greenlee, Justin

Submitted to: Veterinary Pathology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/22/2015
Publication Date: 3/2/2016
Citation: Moore, S.J., Smith, J.D., West Greenlee, M.H., Nicholson, E.M., Richt, J.A., Greenlee, J.J. 2016. Comparison of two US sheep scrapie isolates supports identification as separate strains. Veterinary Pathology. 53(6):1187-1196. doi: 10.1177/0300985816629712.

Interpretive Summary: Scrapie is a fatal disease of sheep and goats that causes damaging changes in the brain. The infectious agent is an abnormal protein called a prion that has misfolded from its normal state. Whether or not a sheep will get scrapie is determined primarily by their genetics. Furthermore, different scrapie strains exist that may result in a different expression of disease such as shorter incubation periods, unusual clinical signs, or unique patterns of lesions within the brain. This study evaluated two U.S. scrapie isolates in groups of sheep with varying susceptibilities to scrapie. Our data indicates that there are differences in incubation periods, sheep genotype susceptibilities, and lesion profiles that support designating these scrapie isolates as unique strains. The identification of a new scrapie strain in the United States means that control measures, methods of decontamination, and the potential for transmission to other species may need to be reevaluated. This information is useful to sheep farmers and breeders that are selectively breeding animals with genotypes resistant to the most prevalent strain of scrapie and could impact future regulations for the control of scrapie in the United States.

Technical Abstract: Scrapie is a naturally occurring transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) of sheep and goats. There are different strains of sheep scrapie that are associated with unique molecular, transmission, and phenotype characteristics, but very little is known about the potential presence of scrapie strains within sheep in the US. Scrapie strain and PRNP genotype could both affect susceptibility, potential for transmission, incubation period, and control measures required for eliminating scrapie from a flock. Here we evaluate two US scrapie isolates, No. 13-7 and x124, after intranasal inoculation to compare clinical signs, incubation periods (IP), spongiform lesions, and patterns of PrPSc deposition in sheep with scrapie-susceptible PRNP genotypes (QQ171). After inoculation with x124, susceptibility and IP were associated with valine at codon 136 (V136) of the prion protein: VV136 had short IPs (6.9 months), AV136 sheep were 11.9 months, and AA136 sheep did not develop scrapie. All No.13-7 inoculated sheep developed scrapie with IP’s of 20.1 months for AA136 sheep, 22.8 months for AV136 sheep, and 26.7 months for VV136 sheep. Patterns of immunoreactivity in the brain were influenced by challenge isolate and host genotype. Differences in PrPSc profiles versus isolate were most striking when examining brains from sheep with the VV136 genotype. In summary, intranasal inoculation with isolates x124 and No. 13-7 resulted in differences in IP, sheep genotype susceptibility, and PrPSc profile that support designation as separate strains.