The Risk of Prion Infection through Bovine Grafting Materials

Clin Implant Dent Relat Res. 2016 Dec;18(6):1095-1102. doi: 10.1111/cid.12391. Epub 2016 Feb 8.


Background: Bovine-derived grafting materials are frequently used in a variety of bone augmentation techniques. The aim of this paper is to assess the unique safety issue of bovine-derived grafting materials that is rarely addressed in dental literature: risk of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

Methods: The validity of the current BSE diagnostic methods, surveillance and epidemiological trends in affected countries, and BSE infectivity in bovine bone before and after manufacturing processing were reviewed and analyzed.

Results: Prion screening has significant limits. Humans are not safe from the infection of prion disease of other species. Prions can and do break the species barrier. There is evidence there may be tens of thousands of infectious carriers in the western countries alone. This raises concern about the potential for perpetuation of infection via medical procedures.

Conclusion: The limited ability to screen prions within the animal genome, along with a long latency period to manifestation of the disease (1 to over 50 years) in infected patients, provides a framework for discussing posible long-term risks of the xenografts that are used so extensively in dentistry. We suggest abolishing the use of bovine bone.

Keywords: EU; FDA; IHC; PK-sensitive; PMCA; PrP 27-30; PrPC, PrPSc; SAF; WB; cCJD; sCJD.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Cattle
  • Encephalopathy, Bovine Spongiform / virology*
  • Humans
  • Prion Diseases / transmission*
  • Transplantation, Heterologous / adverse effects