G Georgsson

University of Iceland, Reikiavik, Capital Region, Iceland

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Publications (67)244.77 Total impact

  • Gudmundur Georgsson · Elías Olafsson · Gunnar Gudmundsson
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    ABSTRACT: Scrapie of sheep and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) are both classified as prion diseases. The infectious agents of both diseases are closely related. The objectives of the study was to explore, whether sheep scrapie could be transmitted to humans and cause CJD. The occurrence of CJD was studied in a period of 40 years, 1960 to 2000. The first part of the study, which was started in 1980, was retrospective. Hospital records from the Department of Neurology of the National Hospital from the years 1960-1980 were scrutinised and paraffin blocks from the collection of the Department of Pathology from cases with the diagnosis CJD and some suspect cases were obtained and analysed. The latter part of the study was prospective, which gave the possibility to study codon 129 of PRNP gene and characterise the strain of the infectious agent. Information on the epidemiology of scrapie in Iceland and of the diet of Icelanders was collected. Four cases of CJD were detected in the 40 years studied, which corresponds to an incidence of 0.44 per million inhabitants, which is less than half the average incidence in 18 other European countries in the years 1997-2004. The low incidence of CJD in Iceland does not indicate that sheep scrapie can be transmitted to humans and cause CJD. If this were the case, we would have expected an higher incidence of CJD and possibly atypical cases, as the Icelandic population has been exposed to scrapie for 130 years.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2008 · Laeknabladid
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    ABSTRACT: Prion diseases are characterized by a long incubation period. In scrapie, sheep may incubate and spread the infection for several years before clinical signs evolve. We have previously studied the occurrence of subclinical infection in the brain. Now, we have studied the occurrence of subclinical infection in the brain and several lymphoid tissues in two scrapie-affected Icelandic sheep flocks by immunohistochemistry for PrP(Sc), a molecular marker for infectivity, and correlated this with results of PrP genotyping. At culling, one flock had one confirmed scrapie case, while the other flock had two. Analysis of 106 asymptomatic sheep by immunostaining for PrP(Sc) revealed that the incidence of subclinical infection was 58.3% in one flock and 42.5% in the other. PrP(Sc) was only detected in lymphoid tissues. The youngest positive sheep were 4 months old. PrP genotyping showed that over 90% of the sheep were of a genotype which is moderately sensitive to infection and may delay neuroinvasion. Our results show that asymptomatic sheep may spread the infection during the long incubation period of several years, which constitutes an important obstacle in the eradication of scrapie. Our findings indicate that contamination of the environment plays an important part in sustaining the infection.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2008 · Archives of Virology
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    ABSTRACT: We studied the central nervous system (CNS) of rhesus macaques during series of vaccination experiments in which attenuated simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), SIVmac239Deltanef, was applied to the tonsils and the animals were later challenged with pathogenic SIVmac251 or SHIV/89.6P via tonsils or rectum. The pathologic lesions were graded on a scale of 0-5. The lesions were in general very mild, with a score of 0.5, except for one case, in which the animal had progressed to simian AIDS (SAIDS) and had severe lesions of grade 4. Except for the SAIDS case, the most common lesions were meningitis, ependymitis, inflammation of choroid plexus, and astrocytosis. Invasion of the challenge virus, SIVmac251, and pathologic lesions were detected 4 days post infection. The main features of the pathological lesions were similar during short-term follow-up (4 days to 2 weeks) and long-term follow-up (23 to 56 weeks) after challenge. No significant difference was found between unvaccinated controls infected with the challenge viruses and vaccinated and challenged animals. The pathological lesions in the one SAIDS case consisted of extensive lesions of the white matter in connection with confluent ependymitis, indicating an invasion through the choroid plexus. The lesions were characterized by a myriad of multinucleated giant cells of macrophage origin, which showed, together with individual macrophages, strong labelling for viral RNA and proteins. Productive infection of astrocytes was a very rare finding. In three cases infected via tonsils with SIVmac239Deltanef without challenge, we detected expression of Nef-derived peptides, indicating a selective pressure for Nef functions in the CNS.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2008 · Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology
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    ABSTRACT: Maedi-visna virus (MVV) is a lentivirus of sheep causing chronic inflammatory disease of the lungs (maedi) and the nervous system (visna). We have previously shown that a duplicated sequence in the long terminal repeat (LTR) of MVV is a determinant of cell tropism. Here, we demonstrate that deletion of a CAAAT sequence from either one of the repeats resulted in poor virus growth in sheep choroid plexus cells. A duplication in the LTR encompassing the CAAAT sequence was found in four neurological field cases that were sequenced, but no duplication was present in the LTRs from seven maedi cases; one maedi isolate was mixed. These results indicate that the duplication in the LTR is associated with neurovirulence.
    Full-text · Article · May 2007 · Journal of Virology
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    ABSTRACT: Elucidating the mechanisms that protect monkeys previously immunized with attenuated SIV (SIVDeltanef) against challenge infection with pathogenic virus may reveal new strategies for the development of an effective HIV vaccine. Here we show that a single atraumatic application of SIVDeltanef to the tonsils of four rhesus macaques conferred protection against SIVmac251 applied intrarectally 26 weeks later. While this protection was not complete, i.e., challenge virus could be isolated from all immunized animals, it was reflected by significantly lower viral loads in the blood (weeks 2-16 after challenge, p < 0.01) and considerably lower loads in lymphoid organs, and more stable peripheral CD4 counts in a proportion of the immunized animals as compared to four non-immunized, SIVmac251-infected control monkeys. SIV-specific humoral as well as systemic and mucosal T cell responses were detected in the immunized animals, but there was no correlation between their magnitude of expression and the level of protection. Analyses of leukocyte subsets in these animals at necropsy (24 weeks after challenge) did not reveal a significantly enhanced proportion of gamma/delta T cells in the tissues of protected monkeys. Therefore, tonsillar application of attenuated SIV induces protection in some animals against a superinfection with wild-type SIV distant at a distant mucosal site.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2007 · Frontiers in Bioscience
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    Gudmundur Georgsson · Sigurdur Sigurdarson · Paul Brown
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    ABSTRACT: In 1978, a rigorous programme was implemented to stop the spread of, and subsequently eradicate, sheep scrapie in Iceland. Affected flocks were culled, premises were disinfected and, after 2-3 years, restocked with lambs from scrapie-free areas. Between 1978 and 2004, scrapie recurred on 33 farms. Nine of these recurrences occurred 14-21 years after culling, apparently as the result of environmental contamination, but outside entry could not always be absolutely excluded. Of special interest was one farm with a small, completely self-contained flock where scrapie recurred 18 years after culling, 2 years after some lambs had been housed in an old sheep-house that had never been disinfected. Epidemiological investigation established with near certitude that the disease had not been introduced from the outside and it is concluded that the agent may have persisted in the old sheep-house for at least 16 years.
    Preview · Article · Jan 2007 · Journal of General Virology
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    ABSTRACT: Polymorphisms in the prion protein gene in humans influence susceptibility to, and phenotype of, prion diseases. Methionine-methionine (MM) homozygosity at codon 129 is a risk factor for sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). Polymorphism at codon 117 and changes in the octapeptide repeat region have been associated with genetic CJD. Knowledge of genetic background in normal populations may contribute to better understanding of prion diseases. Polymorphism at codon 129, codon 117 and deletions of octapetide repeats were studied in 208 healthy blood donors of both genders and of different age. Polymorphism at codon 129 was: MM 46.6%, methionine-valine 44.7%, valine-valine 8.7%. Polymorphism at codon 117 was observed in 4.8%. Deletions of octapeptide repeats were not detected. There were no gender or age differences in the distribution of codon 129 polymorphism. The frequency of codon 129 polymorphisms was, with one exception, not significantly different from that observed elsewhere in Europe.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2006 · Acta Neurologica Scandinavica
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    ABSTRACT: Maedi-visna virus (MVV) is a lentivirus of sheep sharing several key features with the primate lentiviruses. The virus causes slowly progressive diseases, mainly in the lungs and the central nervous system of sheep. Here, we investigate the molecular basis for the differential growth phenotypes of two MVV isolates. One of the isolates, KV1772, replicates well in a number of cell lines and is highly pathogenic in sheep. The second isolate, KS1, no longer grows on macrophages or causes disease. The two virus isolates differ by 129 nucleotide substitutions and two deletions of 3 and 15 nucleotides in the env gene. To determine the molecular nature of the lesions responsible for the restrictive growth phenotype, chimeric viruses were constructed and used to map the phenotype. An L120R mutation in the CA domain, together with a P205S mutation in Vif (but neither alone), could fully convert KV1772 to the restrictive growth phenotype. These results suggest a functional interaction between CA and Vif in MVV replication, a property that may relate to the innate antiretroviral defense mechanisms in sheep.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2006 · Journal of Virology
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    ABSTRACT: Four sheep were infected intratracheally with an attenuated molecular clone of maedi-visna virus (MVV). All four became infected. Ten months later these sheep were challenged intratracheally with a genetically similar but pathogenic clone of MVV. Four unvaccinated sheep were infected simultaneously. All sheep became infected by the challenge virus. The vaccinated sheep were not protected against superinfection with the challenge clone. However, virus was isolated more frequently from the blood of the unvaccinated controls than of the vaccinated animals and ten times more frequently from lungs of unvaccinated sheep than from lungs of vaccinated sheep at sacrifice, indicating partial protection.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2005 · Vaccine
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    ABSTRACT: Subclinical infection in scrapie of sheep, characterized by a long incubation period, may be of importance for the spread of the disease. We screened brain samples from all 65 sheep in a scrapie-affected flock for subclinical infection and correlated with results of PrP genotyping, which is of relevance for the epidemiology and the question, whether by breeding for resistant genotypes one would be breeding for healthy carriers. The sensitivity of three methods was compared, i.e. histopathological examination for vacuoles (HP), immunohistochemical staining (IHC) and Western blotting (WB) for PrP(Sc). Five sheep showed definite clinical signs and histological scrapie lesions, and signs of infection were detected in 25 of 60 asymptomatic sheep, by HP and/or IHC and WB. The IHC was slightly more sensitive than HP and WB. Sheep with subclinical infection were, with one exception, either homo- or heterozygotes for 136-V, as were four of the five sheep with clinical scrapie. The incidence of the VRQ allelic variant in the flock was unusually high compared to the Icelandic sheep population probably contributing to the high prevalence of both clinical and subclinical infection in the flock. Neither sheep with definite scrapie nor detectable subclinical infection, were of the resistant AHQ genotype, indicating that Icelandic AHQ sheep are not healthy carriers of scrapie infection.
    No preview · Article · May 2002 · Archives of Virology
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    ABSTRACT: Infectious molecular clones have been isolated from two maedi-visna virus (MVV) strains, one of which (KV1772kv72/67) is an antigenic escape mutant of the other (LV1-1KS1). To map the type-specific neutralization epitope, we constructed viruses containing chimeric envelope genes by using KV1772kv72/67 as a backbone and replacing various parts of the envelope gene with equivalent sequences from LV1-1KS1. The neutralization phenotype was found to map to a region in the envelope gene containing two deletions and four amino acid changes within 39 amino acids (positions 559 to 597 of Env). Serum obtained from a lamb infected with a chimeric virus, VR1, containing only the 39 amino acids from LV1-1KS1 in the KV1772kv72/67 backbone neutralized LV1-1KS1 but not KV1772kv72/67. The region in the envelope gene that we had thus shown to be involved in escape from neutralization was cloned into pGEX-3X expression vectors, and the resulting fusion peptides from both molecular clones were tested in immunoblots for reactivity with the KV1772kv72/67 and VR1 type-specific antisera. The type-specific KV1772kv72/67 antiserum reacted only with the fusion peptide from KV1772kv72/67 and not with that from LV1-1KS1, and the type-specific VR1 antiserum reacted only with the fusion peptide from LV1-1KS1 and not with that from KV1772kv72/67. Pepscan analysis showed that the region contained two linear epitopes, one of which was specific to each of the molecularly cloned viruses. This linear epitope was not bound by all type-specific neutralizing antisera, however, which indicates that it is not by itself the neutralization epitope but may be a part of it. These findings show that mutations within amino acids 559 to 597 in the envelope gene of MVV virus result in escape from neutralization. Furthermore, the region contains one or more parts of a discontinuous neutralization epitope.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 1999 · Journal of Virology
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    ABSTRACT: The association between scrapie and polymorphism of the prion protein (PrP) gene was studied in the Icelandic sheep breed. Polymorphism of the three codons, 136, 154 and 171, that are important for scrapie susceptibility was determined. A BspHI restriction analysis was used to study the alleles of codons 136 and 154, while density gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) was used to analyse codon 171 and detect new polymorphisms. The PrP allelic variant, VRQ (amino acids at codons 136, 154 and 171), was found to be highly statistically associated with scrapie, whereas the allelic variant, AHQ, was never found in scrapie-affected animals, a finding that is statistically significant. Iceland has a few scrapie-free regions, which are a part of a quarantine network. Homozygotes for the VRQ variant were found there at a low frequency, indicating that genetic susceptibility is not enough for scrapie to develop and further evidence for the infectious nature of the disease. A comparison of PrP genotypes between sheep outside and within the scrapie-free zones revealed an increase in the AHQ allelic variant in the latter. No polymorphism was found at codon 171 in a total of 932 sheep studied, all individuals having the glutamine allele. Two novel, rare PrP alleles were found using DGGE at codons 138 and 151, i.e. S138N and R151C. Their relevance to scrapie is still unclear, but the former was found in scrapie-affected sheep as well as healthy sheep, whereas the latter was only found in healthy sheep.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 1999 · Journal of General Virology
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    ABSTRACT: To investigate the in vitro microbicidal and cytocidal potency of monocaprin dissolved in pharmaceutical hydrogel formulations and to evaluate their potential use as vaginal microbicides against sexually transmitted pathogens such as herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), Chlamydia trachomatis, and Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Gel formulations were mixed with equal volumes of virus/bacteria suspensions in culture medium and incubated for 1 and 5 minutes. The reduction in virus/bacteria titre was used as a measure of microbicidal activity. Similarly, gels were mixed with human semen to study their effect on leucocytes. The toxicity of the gels was tested in rabbits by the standard vaginal irritation test. Gels containing 20 mM of monocaprin caused a greater than 100,000-fold inactivation of HSV-2 and Neisseria in 1 minute and of Chlamydia in 5 minutes. Similarly, the gels caused a greater than 10,000-fold inactivation of HIV-1 in semen in 1 minute. They caused more than a 10,000-fold reduction in the number of viable leucocytes in semen in 1 minute. No toxic effect on the vaginal mucosa of rabbits was observed after daily exposure for 10 days. Hydrogels containing monocaprin are potent inactivators of sexually transmitted viruses and bacteria in vitro. This simple lipid seems to be a feasible choice as a mucosal microbicide for prevention of sexually transmitted infections. It is a natural compound found in certain foodstuffs such as milk and is therefore unlikely to cause harmful side effects in the concentrations used.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 1999 · Sexually Transmitted Infections
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    ABSTRACT: Expression of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) antigens was studied in the brains of 10 healthy sheep 2 months to 5 years old and 13 sheep infected with visna virus by intracerebral inoculation and killed one and 6 months post infection (p.i.). In healthy sheep there was prominent expression of class I, mainly on endothelial cells but also detected on ependyma, choroid plexus and in the leptomeninges. Class II expression was sparse. It was observed on perivascular cells, in choroid plexus, leptomeninges and on microglial cells in the white matter. No definite increase with age in the constitutive expression of class I and II was observed, confirming that we are dealing with a true constitutive expression. In visna-infected sheep a considerable induction of MHC antigens on microglia was observed, which correlated with severity of lesions and was mainly found in or adjacent to inflammatory infiltrates of the white matter. Increase in class II antigen expression was detected in all sheep but class I only in sheep with the most severe lesions 6 months p.i., an indication of a higher threshold for induction of class I than class II antigens on microglia. Few cells expressed viral antigens, indicating that direct immune-mediated destruction of infected cells plays a minor role in evolution of lesions. Since the preferential induction of MHC antigens on microglia in the white matter correlated with the lesion pattern, activated microglia may play a considerable role in the pathogenesis of lesions.
    No preview · Article · Jul 1998 · Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology
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    ABSTRACT: Nucleoside and nucleotide analogues, which are inhibitors of human immunodeficiency virus reverse transcriptase, are highly active inhibitors of visna virus replication in cell cultures. One such analogue, the acyclic nucleoside phosphonate PMEA, has also been found to have a prophylactic effect on visna virus infection in lambs. In the present study, lambs were injected subcutaneously with 10 mg/kg PMEA three times a week starting 4 weeks after inoculation with visna virus, when brain infection had been established. After 3 weeks of treatment there was a reduction in the amount of virus isolated from blood cells of PMEA-treated lambs compared to controls and during the remaining 7 months of drug treatment there was significantly less virus isolated from the blood cells of treated lambs than of controls. Antibody response against visna virus was also slower in the treated than in the untreated control group. On the other hand, there was no difference in the amount of virus isolated from various organs of the two groups and the severity of CNS lesions in sheep treated with PMEA for 8 months was comparable to that found in untreated controls, even though PMEA reached concentrations in the cerebrospinal fluid which were well in excess of the EC50 value of the drug for visna virus.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 1998 · Antiviral chemistry & chemotherapy
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    ABSTRACT: The major part of the dUTPase-encoding region of the visna virus genome was deleted. Intracerebral injection of the mutant virus resulted in a somewhat reduced viral load compared to that resulting from injection of the wild type, especially in the lungs, but the neuropathogenic effects were comparable. The dUTPase gene is dispensable for induction of lesions in the brain.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 1998 · Journal of Virology
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    ABSTRACT: Two different recombinant visna virus (VV) gag-baculoviruses were constructed for the expression of precursor VV Gag in insect cells. Both recombinant Gag viruses expressed proteins migrating on SDS–PAGE at the predicted rate for VV Gag precursor, Pr50gag. However, differences were seen in the morphology of the virus-like particles produced. Monoclonal antibody directed against the VV Gag capsid protein (p25) and sera from sheep infected with ovine lentiviruses reacted to both 50-kDa proteins. A recombinant VV env-baculovirus was constructed, substituting sequences encoding the signal peptide of VV Env with the murine IFN-γ analogue. Sera from ovine lentivirus infected sheep reacted in immunoblots with two proteins of approximately 100 and 200 kDa found in the plasma membrane of insect cells infected with env-recombinant virus. Sheep immunized with either the recombinant Gag or the Env proteins developed high antibody titers to VV in ELISA. The serum of sheep and ascitic fluid of mice immunized with the recombinant Gag reacted with native Pr50gag and the processed Gag proteins in immunoblots, whereas serum of the recombinant Env immunized sheep reacted with VV gp135 and a putative oligomer of gp135. The immunized sheep responded specifically to visna virus by lymphocyte proliferation in vitro.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 1998 · Virus Research
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    Full-text · Article · Feb 1998 · Clinical Microbiology and Infection
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    ABSTRACT: During the epidemic caused by maedi-visna virus (MVV) of sheep in Iceland, the pulmonary affection, maedi, was the predominant clinical manifestation. In some flocks, however, a central nervous system (CNS) affection, visna, was the main cause of morbidity and mortality. As there is only one breed of sheep in the country, host factors did apparently not play an important role in the different clinical manifestations. To obtain some information on possible viral genetic determinants of neurotropism and neurovirulence we studied both phenotypic and genotypic properties of two maedi-visna virus strains; a strain that was originally isolated from the brain of sheep with encephalitis (visna), and another strain isolated from the lungs of a sheep suffering from pneumonia (maedi). The brain isolate was found to grow faster in sheep choroid plexus cells than the lung isolate, whereas the growth rate in macrophages was similar for the maedi and visna virus strains. Intracerebral inoculation indicated that the visna virus isolate induced more severe brain lesions than the maedi isolate. In addition, a pathogenic molecular clone derived from a visna strain (KV1772kv72/67) was tested for growth in sheep choroid plexus cells and macrophages. The molecularly cloned virus retained the fast growth rate in choroid plexus cells. The nucleotide sequence of the env gene and the U3 of the LTR was determined for the maedi strain and compared to that of the visna strains. There was an 11.7% difference in deduced amino acid sequence in the Env protein and a 6% difference in the LTR. The molecular clone KV1772kv72/67 will be a useful reagent for characterization of viral determinants of cell tropism in vitro and possibly neurovirulence in vivo.
    No preview · Article · Feb 1998 · Virus Genes
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    ABSTRACT: In intranasal vaccination it is important that the adjuvant does not have any toxic effect on the sensitive nasal mucosa. In this study a histological and clinical evaluation of the effects of two different adjuvants in a vaccine containing detoxified diphtheria (DT) and tetanus toxoid (TT) in guinea pigs was done. The guinea pigs were divided in four groups and treated daily for 14 days with different formulations. Group I with saline, Groups 2 and 3 with the vaccines in a non-ionic surfactant formulation containing glycerides and Group 4 with tetraethyleneglycol formulation containing glycofurol. The guinea pigs in Groups 1, 2 and 4 were sacrificed on day 15 and Group 3, 1 week later and the tissues processed for histological examination. The animals remained healthy during the treatment and minor clinical signs, such as nose-blowing, decreased with time. The histological appearance, including the development of lymphoid tissue, was comparable in all groups. A specific toxic effect on the nasal mucosa by the different vaccine and adjuvant formulations was not observed.
    No preview · Article · Feb 1996 · Toxicology

Publication Stats

2k Citations
244.77 Total Impact Points


  • 1971-2008
    • University of Iceland
      • Institute for Experimental Pathology
      Reikiavik, Capital Region, Iceland
  • 1992
    • Lund University
      Lund, Skåne, Sweden
  • 1987
    • National Institutes of Health
      • Laboratory of Experimental Gerontology (LEG)
      Maryland, United States
  • 1982
    • University of Pennsylvania
      • Department of Medicine
      Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
  • 1976-1979
    • Johns Hopkins University
      • Department of Epidemiology
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States