Comparison of NADPH diaphorase activity in the brains of hamsters infected with scrapie strains 139H or 263K or with normal hamster brain homogenate


  • X. Ye
  • H. C. Meeker
  • A. C. Scallet
  • R. I. Carp


NADPH, scrapie, hamster, astrocytosis, vacuolation


Previous studies showed that the histopathological changes found in the brains of scrapieinfected animals included amyloid plaque formation, vacuolation, gliosis and neuronal and neurite degeneration. There were differences in the histopathological findings as a function of the scrapie strain-host combination. NADPH-diaphorase (NADPHd) has been shown to be a selective histochemical marker for neurons containing nitric oxide (NO) synthase. Neuronal cell damage caused by NOS in brain has been reported to be associated with many neurodegenerative diseases. In this study, we used NADPH-d histostaining to investigate changes in the NOS system in brains of 139H- and 263K-infected hamsters and compared the results to normal hamster brain (NHB) injected animals. We observed that some of the NADPH-d histostaining neurons in the cortex of scrapie-infected hamsters appeared to be atrophic: the neurons were smaller and had fewer neurites. The NADPH-d histostaining intensity of neurons or astrocytes in septum, thalamus, hypothalamus and amygdala of 139H- and 263K-infected hamsters was greater than in control hamsters. Astrocytes in the thalamus, hypothalamus and lower part of the cortex (layers 4 to 6) in 263K-infected hamsters were more intensely stained for NADPH-d than in either 139Hinfected hamsters or controls. Our results suggest that changes in NADPH-d system might play a role in the diversity of scrapie induced neurodegenerative changes.