Failure to transmit scrapie infection by transferring preimplantation embryos from naturally infected donor sheep

J. C. Low*, J. Chambers, W. A.C. McKelvey, I. J. McKendrick, M. Jeffrey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The objective of the study was to examine whether or not the preimplantation embryo can act as a carrier of classic scrapie infection. The study was carried out on quarantined premises with sheep of highly susceptible scrapie genotypes. Uninfected embryos, collected from New Zealand-derived Suffolk ewes, were surgically transferred into recipient ewes that were also of New Zealand origin. Seventeen negative control lambs were born on the study premises from these embryo transfers. Thirty-nine experimental lambs were from embryos collected from naturally infected donor ewes. The experimental lambs were also born on the study premises after their surgical transfer into recipient ewes of New Zealand origin. These embryos had been collected from donor ewes in a scrapie-infected flock where the ewes were clinically sick with scrapie or developed clinical scrapie after embryo collection. All lambs were confirmed as scrapie susceptible of the ARQ/ARQ genotype. Twenty-eight experimental animals survived to the end point of the study at 5 yr of age with a mean survival of 1579 d. In the negative control group, 12 of 17 sheep survived to 5 yr of age with a mean survival of 1508 d. Postmortem examinations were carried out on all animals derived by embryo transfer, and in none was histologic or immunohistochemical evidence of scrapie found. In contrast, in the originating flock the majority of scrapie cases occurred in ARQ/ARQ genotyped animals where a 56% mortality from scrapie had been recorded in animals of this genotype. Thus, the study provides no evidence for transmission of scrapie and reinforces published evidence that vertical transmission of scrapie may be circumvented by embryo transfer procedures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)809-816
Number of pages8
JournalTheriogenology
Volume72
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPrint publication - 1 Oct 2009

Keywords

  • Embryo transfer
  • Scrapie
  • Sheep
  • Transmission

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