A single step multiplex immunofluorometric assay for differential diagnosis of BSE and scrapie

Tang, Y.; Thorne, J.; Whatling, K.L.; Jacobs, J.G.; Langeveld, J.P.M.; Sauer, M.


Although there is no evidence that the European sheep population has been infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), distinguishing this from scrapie is paramount, given the association between BSE exposure and the human transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE), variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease. The capability to differentially diagnose TSEs in sheep is thus essential in order to safeguard the food chain and human health. Biochemical methods for differentiating BSE and scrapie are largely reliant on assessment by Western blot (WB) analysis of the abnormal disease associated prion protein PrPD following partial proteolytic digestion. WB banding patterns obtained using a panel of antibodies enable different strain specific conformations of PrPD to be distinguished. This approach provides a robust confirmatory test but one which is not appropriate for high throughput screening. A simple, one step, bead array flow cytometry based multiplex immunofluorometric assay has been developed which is suitable for simultaneous screening and confirmation. Using a combination of antibodies directed towards three PrP epitopes enabled differential diagnosis of scrapie and BSE. Proof of principle studies indicated a high predictive value (100%) when applied to brain samples from control animals, BSE infected cattle and sheep naturally infected with scrapie or experimentally infected with BSE.