Co-existence of classical scrapie and Nor98 in a sheep from an Italian outbreak

M Mazza, B Iulini, G Vaccari, P L Acutis, F Martucci, E Esposito, S Peletto, S Barocci, B Chiappini, C Corona, I Barbieri, M Caramelli, U Agrimi, C Casalone, R Nonno
Research in Veterinary Science 2010, 88 (3): 478-85
Nor98 is an atypical scrapie strain characterized by a molecular pattern and brain distribution of the pathological prion protein (PrP(Sc)) different from classical scrapie. In Italy, 69 atypical cases have been identified so far and all were characterized as Nor98 strain. In this paper we report an unusual case in a sheep which showed immunohistochemical and molecular features of PrP(Sc) different from the other atypical cases. The sheep was from an outbreak where the index and the other four cases were affected by classical scrapie. Histopathological, immunohistochemical and Western blot analyses on the brain of the unusual case revealed the simultaneous presence of pathological features characteristic of Nor98 and classical scrapie. Interestingly, the prevalent disease phenotype in the brainstem was classical scrapie-like, while in the cerebral cortex and cerebellum the Nor98 phenotype was dominant. The sub-mandibular lymph node was positive and showed a PrP(Sc) molecular pattern referable to classical scrapie. The PrP genotype was AL(141)RQ/AF(141)RQ. Taken together, the occurrence of classical scrapie in the outbreak, the PrP genotype, the involvement of different cellular targets in the brain and the pathological and molecular PrP(Sc) features observed suggest that this unusual case may result from the co-existence of Nor98 and classical scrapie.

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