As if the animal rights backlash wasn’t enough.
Here we report that commercially available duck- or goose-derived foie gras contains [plaque precursors] composed of serum amyloid A-related protein that acted as a potent [amyloid enhancing factor] in a transgenic murine model of secondary (amyloid A protein) amyloidosis. When such mice were injected with or fed amyloid extracted from foie gras, the animals developed extensive systemic pathological deposits. These experimental data provide evidence that an amyloid-containing food product hastened the development of amyloid protein A amyloidosis in a susceptible population.
Amyloid A plaques are a hallmark of rheumatoid arthritis and other types of chronic inflammation. While we already know that brain-wasting prion diseases can be transmitted from animal to animal like an infectious agent, this is the first time someone has shown that other forms of protein plaque disease can be passed on the same way.
However time: to my knowledge nobody has connected foie gras and arthritis in an epidemiological study. More of a concern for me is that prions and amyloid diseases critically turn on small details of protein folding, which means that any small change in the amyloid precursors during the extraction process could have pushed the protein used in this study towards becoming more pathogenic.
As with all such studies, treat as interesting but (1) needs to be repeated, and (2) needs to be backed up with epidemiology.