Risk of scrapie in British sheep of different prion protein genotype

J Gen Virol. 2004 Sep;85(Pt 9):2735-2740. doi: 10.1099/vir.0.79876-0.


There is a well-established association between sheep prion protein (PrP) genotype and the risk of death from scrapie. Certain genotypes are clearly associated with susceptibility to the disease and others to resistance. However, there have been no attempts to quantify the disease risk for all 15 PrP genotypes. Here, datasets of the PrP genotypes of nearly 14 000 British sheep and of more than 1500 confirmed scrapie cases were combined to yield an estimate of scrapie risk (reported cases per annum per million sheep of the genotype, or RCAM) for British sheep. The greatest scrapie risk by far, ranging from 225 to 545 RCAM, was for the VRQ-encoding genotypes ARQ/VRQ, ARH/VRQ and VRQ/VRQ. The next greatest risk (37 RCAM) was for the ARQ/ARQ genotype. The ARR/ARR genotype was the only numerically significant genotype for which no scrapie cases have been reported. The AHQ allele conferred resistance and the risk of scrapie in AHQ/VRQ sheep was very low (0.7 RCAM), although there was a higher and moderate risk for the AHQ homozygote (5 RCAM). The ARH allele appeared to confer susceptibility when encoded with VRQ, but possible resistance when encoded with other alleles. Scrapie risk varied with age: for VRQ/VRQ and ARH/VRQ the risk peaked at 2 years of age; that for ARQ/VRQ peaked at 3 years. There was some evidence that, following the lower risk at 4 and 5 years, a second rise occurred from about 6 years. Comparison with other published data indicated that the scrapie risk of certain PrP genotypes may differ between Great Britain and other countries.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genotype
  • Prions / genetics*
  • Risk Factors
  • Scrapie / epidemiology*
  • Scrapie / genetics
  • Sheep
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology


  • Prions