Chronic wasting disease (CWD), a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy of cervids, was first documented nearly 50 years ago in Colorado and Wyoming and has since spread to cervids in 23 states, two Canadian provinces, and the Republic of Korea. The expansion of this disease makes the development of sensitive diagnostic assays and antemortem sampling techniques crucial for the mitigation of its spread; this is especially true in cases of relocation/reintroduction of farmed or free-ranging deer and elk or surveillance studies of private or protected herds, where depopulation is contraindicated. This study sought to evaluate the sensitivity of the real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC) assay by using recto-anal mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (RAMALT) biopsy specimens and nasal brush samples collected antemortem from farmed white-tailed deer (n-409). Antemortem findings were then compared to results from ante- and postmortem samples (RAMALT, brainstem, and medial retropharyngeal lymph nodes) evaluated by using the current gold standard in vitro assay, immunohistochemistry (IHC) analysis. We hypothesized that the sensitivity of RT-QuIC would be comparable to IHC analysis in antemortem tissues and would correlate with both the genotype and the stage of clinical disease. Our results showed that RAMALT testing by RT-QuIC assay had the highest sensitivity (69.8%) compared to that of postmortem testing, with a specificity of>93.9%. These data suggest that RT-QuIC, like IHC analysis, is an effective assay for detection of PrPCWD in rectal biopsy specimens and other antemortem samples and, with further research to identify more sensitive tissues, bodily fluids, or experimental conditions, has potential for large-scale and rapid automated testing for CWD diagnosis.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Microbiology (medical)