With increased awareness of the diversity of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) strains in the ruminant population, comes an appreciation of the need for improved methods of differential diagnosis. Exposure to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) has been associated with the human TSE, variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, emphasizing the necessity in distinguishing low-risk TSE types from BSE. TSE type discrimination in ruminants such as cattle, sheep, goats and deer, requires the application of several prion protein (PrP)-specific antibodies in parallel immunochemical tests on brain homogenates or tissue sections from infected animals. This study uses in a single incubation step, three PrP-specific antibodies and fluorescent Alexa dye-labelled anti-mouse Fabs on a Western blot. The usual amount of brain tissue needed is 0.5 mg. This multiplex application of antibodies directed towards three different PrP epitopes enabled differential diagnosis of all established main features of classical scrapie, BSE and Nor98-like scrapie in sheep and goats, as well as the currently known BSE types C, H and L in cattle. Moreover, due to an antibody-dependent dual PrP-banding pattern, for the first time CH1641 scrapie of sheep can be reliably discriminated from the other TSE isolate types in sheep.
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