Use of different RT-QuIC substrates for detecting CWD prions in the brain of Norwegian cervids


Scientific Reports


9 December, 2019


Bistaffa E, Vuong TT, Cazzaniga FA, Tran L, Salzano G, Legname G, Giaccone G, Benestad SL, Moda F.


Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a highly contagious prion disease affecting captive and free-ranging cervid populations. CWD has been detected in United States, Canada, South Korea and, most recently, in Europe (Norway, Finland and Sweden). Animals with CWD release infectious prions in the environment through saliva, urine and feces sustaining disease spreading between cervids but also potentially to other non-cervids ruminants (e.g. sheep, goats and cattle). In the light of these considerations and due to CWD unknown zoonotic potential, it is of utmost importance to follow specific surveillance programs useful to minimize disease spreading and transmission. The European community has already in place specific surveillance measures, but the traditional diagnostic tests performed on nervous or lymphoid tissues lack sensitivity. We have optimized a Real-Time Quaking-Induced Conversion (RT-QuIC) assay for detecting CWD prions with high sensitivity and specificity to try to overcome this problem. In this work, we show that bank vole prion protein (PrP) is an excellent substrate for RT-QuIC reactions, enabling the detection of trace-amounts of CWD prions, regardless of prion strain and cervid species. Beside supporting the traditional diagnostic tests, this technology could be exploited for detecting prionsin peripheral tissues from live animals, possibly even at preclinical stages of the disease.