BSE and immune reactions

Just two years ago the “BSE” issue caused considerable agitation among the public. In the meantime BSE has disappeared from the headlines, since so-called risk material now has to be removed during slaughtering and BSE tests are compulsory by law. Up to now the muscle meat of the slaughtered cattle has been classified as not harmful to health.

This allegation has to be seriously called into question now that the work group of Nobel Prize winner Stanley Prusiner was able to discover considerable amounts of prions in the muscular system of infected mice. In March 2002 there was a startling publication on this issue in one of the most renowned scientific journals, in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”. (41)

At the 7th Congress on Infectuous Diseases and Tropical Medicine the Berlin Robert Koch Institute presented a study on golden hamsters. The scrapie agents which had been added to the food spread to the most varied parts of the skeletal muscles of the hamsters. All muscle tissues examined were positive. Even large amounts of prion proteins were discovered. (42)

On January 23, 2003, the news broadcast “Monitor” showed an interview with the Munich neuropathologist Prof. Hans Kretschmar who had repeated the tests of the Californian scientists on mice and was also able to detect prions in muscle meat. Prof. Kretschmar called these findings quite worrying, since an infection via muscle meat could not be excluded. (43)

As a consequence of the first known case of BSE in the U.S.A. several scientific articles were published on December 23, 2003 showing that the scientific image of the BSE disease has come into serious doubt. United Press International (UPI) published a long article on the Creutzfeld-Jakob disease (CJD) on December 29, 2003: Until then the classical form of CJD had been assumed not to have anything to do with BSE. Only the so-called variant form of this disease affecting younger people had been connected with infected beef consumption.

New research at the University of London has found that an infection with BSE prions can cause the variant as well as the classical form of CJD. In Switzerland numerous cattle have been BSE-infected in the past. The incidence rate of CJD cases has doubled in the last three years. CJD, like Morbus Alzheimer, is among the neurodegenerative diseases which often cannot be clearly distinguished on the basis of the clinical picture. Neuropathologists at several universities in the U.S. conducted autopsy studies on deceased persons who had been diagnosed by specialists as having Morbus Alzheimer when still alive. What makes these results so alarming is that 3 to 13 percent of the cases turned out to be not Morbus Alzheimer, but Creutzfeld-Jacob disease.

In the U.S. the number of people dying of Morbus Alzheimer increased 50fold from 1979 to 2000. In 2000 these amounted to no less than 50.000 people. At present the number of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S.A. is estimated at approx. 4 million. Realistically one has to assume that the number of unknown cases of CJD is high.  (44)

On October 1, 2003 an interesting study by scientists of the University of California was published in PNAS-online. The American scientists had found out that after red meat consumption the human metabolism incorporates certain sugar compounds denominated as N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc) into various tissues. Neu5Gc antibodies were identified in various subjects. This provided the first proof that molecules from ingestion of meat can generate an immune response in the human metabolism. Regular ingestion of meat promotes detrimental immune responses and can make the body more susceptible to inflammation, with all the secondary diseases that ensue. (45)


  1. FAZ.NET, 8. April 2003
  2.  WDR Monitor, 23.01.2003
  3.  Mad Cow: Linked to thousands of CJD cases? By Steve Mitchell, United Press International, Published 12/29/2003
  4. Proc.Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 10.1073/pnas.2131556100