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1.  Experimental H-type and L-type bovine spongiform encephalopathy in cattle: observation of two clinical syndromes and diagnostic challenges 
Background
The majority of atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) cases so far identified worldwide have been detected by active surveillance. Consequently the volume and quality of material available for detailed characterisation is very limiting. Here we report on a small transmission study of both atypical forms, H- and L-type BSE, in cattle to provide tissue for test evaluation and research, and to generate clinical, molecular and pathological data in a standardised way to enable more robust comparison of the two variants with particular reference to those aspects most relevant to case ascertainment and confirmatory diagnosis within existing regulated surveillance programmes.
Results
Two groups of four cattle, intracerebrally inoculated with L-type or H-type BSE, all presented with a nervous disease form with some similarities to classical BSE, which progressed to a more dull form in one animal from each group. Difficulty rising was a consistent feature of both disease forms and not seen in two BSE-free, non-inoculated cattle that served as controls. The pathology and molecular characteristics were distinct from classical BSE, and broadly consistent with published data, but with some variation in the pathological characteristics. Both atypical BSE types were readily detectable as BSE by current confirmatory methods using the medulla brain region at the obex, but making a clear diagnostic distinction between the forms was not consistently straightforward in this brain region. Cerebellum proved a more reliable sample for discrimination when using immunohistochemistry.
Conclusions
The prominent feature of difficulty rising in atypical BSE cases may explain the detection of naturally occurring cases in emergency slaughter cattle and fallen stock. Current confirmatory diagnostic methods are effective for the detection of such atypical cases, but consistently and correctly identifying the variant forms may require modifications to the sampling regimes and methods that are currently in use.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-8-22
PMCID: PMC3378435  PMID: 22401036
2.  Relationship between clinical signs and postmortem test status in cattle experimentally infected with the bovine spongiform encephalopathy agent 
Background
Various clinical protocols have been developed to aid in the clinical diagnosis of classical bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), which is confirmed by postmortem examinations based on vacuolation and accumulation of disease-associated prion protein (PrPd) in the brain. The present study investigated the occurrence and progression of sixty selected clinical signs and behaviour combinations in 513 experimentally exposed cattle subsequently categorised postmortem as confirmed or unconfirmed BSE cases. Appropriate undosed or saline inoculated controls were examined similarly and the data analysed to explore the possible occurrence of BSE-specific clinical expression in animals unconfirmed by postmortem examinations.
Results
Based on the display of selected behavioural, sensory and locomotor changes, 20 (67%) orally dosed and 17 (77%) intracerebrally inoculated pathologically confirmed BSE cases and 21 (13%) orally dosed and 18 (6%) intracerebrally inoculated but unconfirmed cases were considered clinical BSE suspects. None of 103 controls showed significant signs and were all negative on diagnostic postmortem examinations. Signs indicative of BSE suspects, particularly over-reactivity and ataxia, were more frequently displayed in confirmed cases with vacuolar changes in the brain. The display of several BSE-associated signs over time, including repeated startle responses and nervousness, was significantly more frequent in confirmed BSE cases compared to controls, but these two signs were also significantly more frequent in orally dosed cattle unconfirmed by postmortem examinations.
Conclusions
The findings confirm that in experimentally infected cattle clinical abnormalities indicative of BSE are accompanied by vacuolar changes and PrPd accumulation in the brainstem. The presence of more frequently expressed signs in cases with vacuolar changes is consistent with this pathology representing a more advanced stage of disease. That BSE-like signs or sign combinations occur in inoculated animals that were not confirmed as BSE cases by postmortem examinations requires further study to investigate the potential causal relationship with prion disease.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-6-53
PMCID: PMC3019182  PMID: 21143919
3.  Immunohistochemical and biochemical characteristics of BSE and CWD in experimentally infected European red deer (Cervus elaphus elaphus) 
Background
The cause of the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) epidemic in the United Kingdom (UK) was the inclusion of contaminated meat and bone meal in the protein rations fed to cattle. Those rations were not restricted to cattle but were also fed to other livestock including farmed and free living deer. Although there are no reported cases to date of natural BSE in European deer, BSE has been shown to be naturally or experimentally transmissible to a wide range of different ungulate species. Moreover, several species of North America's cervids are highly susceptible to chronic wasting disease (CWD), a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) that has become endemic. Should BSE infection have been introduced into the UK deer population, the CWD precedent could suggest that there is a danger for spread and maintenance of the disease in both free living and captive UK deer populations. This study compares the immunohistochemical and biochemical characteristics of BSE and CWD in experimentally-infected European red deer (Cervus elpahus elaphus).
Results
After intracerebral or alimentary challenge, BSE in red deer more closely resembled natural infection in cattle rather than experimental BSE in small ruminants, due to the lack of accumulation of abnormal PrP in lymphoid tissues. In this respect it was different from CWD, and although the neuropathological features of both diseases were similar, BSE could be clearly differentiated from CWD by immunohistochemical and Western blotting methods currently in routine use.
Conclusion
Red deer are susceptible to both BSE and CWD infection, but the resulting disease phenotypes are distinct and clearly distinguishable.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-5-26
PMCID: PMC2724422  PMID: 19635142
4.  Different prion disease phenotypes result from inoculation of cattle with two temporally separated sources of sheep scrapie from Great Britain 
Background
Given the theoretical proposal that bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) could have originated from sheep scrapie, this study investigated the pathogenicity for cattle, by intracerebral (i.c.) inoculation, of two pools of scrapie agents sourced in Great Britain before and during the BSE epidemic.
Two groups of ten cattle were each inoculated with pools of brain material from sheep scrapie cases collected prior to 1975 and after 1990. Control groups comprised five cattle inoculated with sheep brain free from scrapie, five cattle inoculated with saline, and for comparison with BSE, naturally infected cattle and cattle i.c. inoculated with BSE brainstem homogenate from a parallel study. Phenotypic characterisation of the disease forms transmitted to cattle was conducted by morphological, immunohistochemical, biochemical and biological methods.
Results
Disease occurred in 16 cattle, nine inoculated with the pre-1975 inoculum and seven inoculated with the post-1990 inoculum, with four cattle still alive at 83 months post challenge (as at June 2006). The different inocula produced predominantly two different disease phenotypes as determined by histopathological, immunohistochemical and Western immunoblotting methods and biological characterisation on transmission to mice, neither of which was identical to BSE. Whilst the disease presentation was uniform in all scrapie-affected cattle of the pre-1975 group, the post-1990 inoculum produced a more variable disease, with two animals sharing immunohistochemical and molecular profile characteristics with animals in the pre-1975 group.
Conclusion
The study has demonstrated that cattle inoculated with different pooled scrapie sources can develop different prion disease phenotypes, which were not consistent with the phenotype of BSE of cattle and whose isolates did not have the strain typing characteristics of the BSE agent on transmission to mice.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-2-31
PMCID: PMC1636635  PMID: 17044917

Results 1-4 (4)