The immunohistochemical localisation of the disease-specific protein, PrPSc, was examined in the distal ileum of cattle up to 40 months after they had been exposed orally to the agent of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), in the intestines and mesenteric lymph nodes of an additional group of cattle, killed six months after a similar exposure, and in the distal ileum of naturally occurring clinical cases of BSE. PrPSc was detected, mainly in macrophages, in a small proportion of the follicles of Peyer's patches in the distal ileum of the experimentally exposed cattle throughout much of the course of the disease. The observations are in agreement with the infectivity data derived from mouse bioassays of the distal ileum. At the later stages of the disease, the proportion of immunostained follicles increased as the total number of follicles decreased with age. In the additional experimental group of cattle, PrPSc was confined to the Peyer's patches in the distal ileum. No immunostaining was detected in the lymphoid tissue of the distal ileum of naturally occurring clinical cases of BSE. In some of the clinically affected experimentally induced and naturally occurring cases of BSE there was sparse immunostaining of the neurons of the distal ileal myenteric plexus.
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