Chronic wasting disease of elk: Transmissibility to humans examined by transgenic mouse models

Qingzhong Kong, Shenghai Huang, Wenquan Zou, Difernando Vanegas, Meiling Wang, Di Wu, Jue Yuan, Mengjie Zheng, Hua Bai, Huayun Deng, Ken Chen, Allen L. Jenny, Katherine O'Rourke, Ermias D. Belay, Lawrence B. Schonberger, Robert B. Petersen, Man Sun Sy, Shu G. Chen, Pierluigi Gambetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

215 Scopus citations


Chronic wasting disease (CWD), a prion disease affecting free-ranging and captive cervids (deer and elk), is widespread in the United States and parts of Canada. The large cervid population, the popularity of venison consumption, and the apparent spread of the CWD epidemic are likely resulting in increased human exposure to CWD in the United States. Whether CWD is transmissible to humans, as has been shown for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (the prion disease of cattle), is unknown. We generated transgenic mice expressing the elk or human prion protein (PrP) in a PrP-null background. After intracerebral inoculation with elk CWD prion, two lines of "humanized" transgenic mice that are susceptible to human prions failed to develop the hallmarks of prion diseases after >657 and >756 d, respectively, whereas the "cervidized" transgenic mice became infected after 118-142 d. These data indicate that there is a substantial species barrier for transmission of elk CWD to humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7944-7949
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number35
StatePublished - Aug 31 2005


  • CWD
  • Cervids
  • Chronic wasting disease
  • Deer
  • Elk
  • Prion
  • Species barrier
  • Transgenic mice
  • Transmissibility to humans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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