Campus Units

Veterinary Pathology

Document Type


Publication Version

Published Version

Publication Date


Journal or Book Title

BMC Veterinary Research



First Page






Prions demonstrate an unusual resistance to methods effective at inactivating conventional microorganisms. This has resulted in a very tangible and difficult infection control challenge to the medical and veterinary communities, as well as animal agriculture and related industries. Currently accepted practices of harsh chemical treatments such as prolonged exposure to sodium hydroxide or sodium hypochlorite, or autoclaving are not suitable in many situations. Less caustic and more readily applicable treatments to contaminated environments are therefore desirable. We recently demonstrated that exposure of the RML scrapie agent to a commercial product containing sodium percarbonate (SPC-P) with or without sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) rendered PrPSc sensitive to proteinase K (PK), but did not eliminate infectivity. The current study was designed to evaluate the efficacy of a combinatorial approach to inactivating prions by exposing RML-positive brain homogenate to SPC-P and SDS followed by PK. Treated samples were evaluated for PrPSc-immunoreactivity by western blot, and residual infectivity by mouse bioassay.


Treatment of infected brain homogenate with SPC-P and SDS followed by PK exposure resulted in a 4–5 log10 reduction in infectivity when bioassayed in tga20 mice.


This study demonstrates that exposure of the RML scrapie agent to SPC-P and SDS followed by PK markedly reduces, but does not eliminate infectivity. The results of this study encourage further investigation into whether consecutive or concomitant exposure to sodium percarbonate, SDS, and a protease may serve as a viable and non-caustic option for prion inactivation.


This article is published as Smith, Jodi D., Eric M. Nicholson, and Justin J. Greenlee. "Evaluation of a combinatorial approach to prion inactivation using an oxidizing agent, SDS, and proteinase K." BMC veterinary research 9, no. 1 (2013): 151. doi: 10.1186/1746-6148-9-151.


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