Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a contagious prion disease of cervids. The infectious agent is shed from animals at the preclinical and clinical stages of disease where it persists in the environment as a reservoir of CWD infectivity. In this study, we demonstrate that long-term incubation of CWD prions (generated from tg-mice infected with deer or elk prions) with illite, montmorillonite (Mte) and whole soils results in decreased recovery of PrPCWD, suggesting that binding becomes more avid and irreversible with time. This continual decline of immunoblot PrPCWD detection did not correlate with prion infectivity levels. Bioassay showed no significant differences in incubation periods between mice inoculated with 1% CWD brain homogenate (BH) and with the CWD-BH pre-incubated with quartz or Luvisolic Ae horizon for 1 or 30 weeks. After 55 weeks incubation with Chernozem and Luvisol, bound PrPCWD was not detectable by immunoblotting but remained infectious. This study shows that although recovery of PrPCWD bound to soil minerals and whole soils with time become more difficult, prion infectivity is not significantly altered. Detection of prions in soil is, therefore, not only affected by soil type but also by length of time of the prion–soil interaction.

CWD, CWD infectivity, Prion detection, Prion protein, Prolonged incubation, Soil
Department of Biology

Kuznetsova, A. (Alsu), McKenzie, D. (Debbie), Cullingham, C., & Aiken, J.M. (Judd M.). (2020). Long-term incubation PrPCWD with soils affects prion recovery but not infectivity. Pathogens, 9(4). doi:10.3390/pathogens9040311