IZS Piemonte, Liguria e Valle d’Aosta Veterinary Biobank

CEA BSE biobank


The National Reference Centre for Animal Encephalopathies (CEA)  was established in 1991 by the Italian Ministry of Health. CEA, settled in Torino headquarters, provides scientific advice and expertise of excellence and scientific technical support for the Italian Health Ministry and for other ministerial or regional bodies on all the main issues relating the Animal Transmissible  Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs).

The Institutional activities on TSEs include:Izsto

  • official diagnostic confirmation of cases identified by active and passive surveillance system;
  • differential diagnosis of animals with neurological symptoms;
  • genetic analysis on the susceptibility of sheep to scrapie;
  • collection, processing and transfer of data for epidemiological surveillance;
  • development of models of risk assessment;
  • production of scientific advice and participation in the drafting of legislation for the control and prevention;
  • setting and implementation of validation studies of diagnostic tests;
  • provide programmes of continuing education of all staff involved in the surveillance of TSEs.

It acts in close cooperation with the European Community Reference Laboratory (CRL) for TSEs based in Weybridge (UK) and with other EU National references centres.

Bovine Spongiform Transmissible Encephalopathy (BSE) Biobank

In the framework of TSEs surveillance activity, CEA has collected BSE tissues including mainly the brainstem and/or the brain of Italian BSE field cases. Samples have been both frozen (-80 °C) and paraffin embedded.

BSE is a prion disease that affect prevalently cattle and it is characterized by brain deposition of an insoluble, protease-resistant isoform of the host-encoded cellular prion protein (PrPC), named PrPSc .

For many years it was believed that BSE has been caused by a single strain but in 2004 molecular studies have demonstrated the existence of at least two additional BSE variants. They are defined as H- and L-BSE on the basis of the molecular features of the pathological prion protein (PrPSc), higher or lower than in classical BSE (C-type).

In Italy, an active surveillance system on BSE in cattle was started in January 2001 and to date a total of 145 BSE cases, 140 classical and 5 L-type or BASE cases have been identified.

IuliniQuality parameters

BSE samples have been diagnosed by Western Blot, Immunohistochemistry and Histology analyses. Each sample have been also analyzed to study the molecular features of PrPSc in order to  discriminate C- and  L-type BSE cases.

Quality management system

CEA laboratories, that supply biological resources to IBVR, use testing methods performed according to UNI EN ISO/IEC 17025 quality system.

Contact information

Cristina Casalone      cristina.casalone@izsto.it

Maria Mazza              maria.mazza@izsto.it

Barbara Iulini             barbara.iulini@izsto.it