Chronic wasting disease (CWD), a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy of cervids, was first documented nearly 50 years ago in Colorado and Wyoming and has since been detected across North America 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 or prevalence studies of large or protected herds, where depopulation may be contraindicated. This study evaluated the sensitivity of the real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC) assay of recto-anal mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (RAMALT) biopsy specimens and nasal brushings collected antemortem. These findings were compared to results of immunohistochemistry (IHC) analysis of ante- and postmortem samples. RAMALT samples were collected from populations of farmed and free-ranging Rocky Mountain elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni; n-323), and nasal brush samples were collected from a subpopulation of these animals (n-205). We hypothesized that the sensitivity of RT-QuIC would be comparable to that of IHC analysis of RAMALT and would correspond to that of IHC analysis of postmortem tissues. We found RAMALT sensitivity (77.3%) to be highly correlative between RT-QuIC and IHC analysis. Sensitivity was lower when testing nasal brushings (34%), though both RAMALT and nasal brush test sensitivities were dependent on both the PRNP genotype and disease progression determined by the obex score. These data suggest that RT-QuIC, like IHC analysis, is a relatively sensitive assay for detection of CWD prions in RAMALT biopsy specimens and, with further investigation, has potential for large-scale and rapid automated testing of antemortem samples for CWD.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Microbiology (medical)