Comparative studies of a real-time PCR method and three enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays for the detection of central nervous system tissues in meat products

Institute of Veterinary Food Science, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Frankfurter Str. 92, D-35392 Giessen, Germany.
Journal of food protection (Impact Factor: 1.85). 11/2008; 71(10):2059-66.
Source: PubMed


The removal of certain central nervous system (CNS) tissues (part of the bovine spongiform encephalopathy risk material) from the food chain is one of the highest priority tasks associated with avoiding contamination of the human food chain with the agent of bovine spongiform encephalopathy. A recently developed real-time PCR assay and three commercially available enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) for the detection of CNS tissues in minced meat and three types of heat-treated sausages were evaluated. Bovine brain was used for spiking of internal reference material, and its detectability was examined during storage times of 12 months (for frozen minced meat and liver sausage) and 24 months (for sausages treated with medium and high heat). The real-time PCR method and both ELISA kits detected 0.1% CNS tissue in frozen minced meat and 0.1 or 1% CNS tissue in heat-treated meat products. The detectability of the amplified mRNA target region with the PCR assay was similar to the detectability of antigen by the ELISAs. Because the real-time PCR method also can be used to distinguish cattle, ovine, and caprine CNS tissues from porcine CNS tissues, it seems to be suitable as a routine diagnostic test for the sensitive and specific detection of CNS tissues in meat and meat products.

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    ABSTRACT: Methods for the detection of central nervous tissue (CNT) are urgently needed in food control as a means for controlling strict adherence to both food labeling and banning of specified BSE risk material. Here, we report data on heat stability of the CNT markers neuron-specific enolase (NSE) in western blotting, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) in an enzyme linked immunoassay, mRNA(GFAP) in a real-time PCR assay, and several fatty acids (C22:6, C24:0-OH, C24:1ω9/ω7, C24:1ω9-OH/ω7-OH, and C24:0) in gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC/MS). The sample matrix, a standard material of emulsion-type sausage with varied contents of CNT (brain), was heat-treated in three studies: (1) routine meat technological heat treatment with low (85 °C, 30 min), medium (115 °C, 30 min), and high (133 °C, 30 min, 3 bar) heating of 72 anonymous samples from a blind trial; (2) heat treatment under experimental conditions (100, 110, …, 200 °C, 45 min); and (3) fractionized heating of central nervous system (up to three times) under moderate routine technological conditions (85, 100, and 115 °C, 30 min). The markers of the immunochemical methods showed a low GFAP or very low NSE temperature stability at medium and high temperature conditions. The real-time PCR assay gave inconsistent, non-quantitative results, which indicated an uncontrollable matrix effect. The relevant GC/MS markers (C24:0-OH, C24:1ω9/ω7, and C24:1ω9-OH/ω7-OH) proved to be extremely stable. Neither meat and bone meal conditions (133 °C) nor experimental heating (up to and above 140 °C) showed any reduction of GC/MS CNT quantification. On the contrary, a slight but significant increase was noted over a certain temperature range (120-140 °C) for most fatty acids, possibly due to an improved extractability of the fatty acids. We conclude that a quantitative approach is highly unreliable when using immunochemical methods; moreover, these methods might be basically prone to false-negative results depending on heat treatment and matrix composition. Therefore, antibodies with higher affinity to heat-treated CNT marker epitopes are needed. Relevant amounts of CNT (≥0.5%) in low- and medium-heated products would still be reliably detectable by the GFAP ELISA, which justifies its use as a screening method in official food control. The results obtained by the real-time PCR assay were contradictory to recently published data, indicating a need for further protocol optimization and collaborative trials. Up to date, the analytical approach using GC/MS is the only valid procedure as pertaining to heat stability and quantitative analysis; consequently, it should be recommended as the reference procedure in official food control for CNT detection in heat-treated meat products.
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