Wildlife Disease and Zoonotics


Date of this Version



Published in Acta Neuropathol (2008) 115:651–661


Neuroinvasion of the enteric nervous system by prions is an important step in dissemination to the brain, yet very little is known about the basic process of enteric neuroinvasion. Using an alimentary model of neonatal disease transmission, neuroinvasion by scrapie prions in the ileum of lambs was detected by immunohistochemical staining for the disease-associated form of the prion protein, PrPSc. Odds ratios (OR) were determined for the frequency of PrPSc staining within enteric somata categorized by plexus location (myenteric, submucosal) and neurochemical staining (PGP 9.5, neural nitric oxide synthase, somatostatin, substance P, and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide). PrPSc was observed in 4.48 ± 4.26% of myenteric neurons and 2.57 ± 1.82% of submucosal neurons in five lambs aged 208–226 days but not in a lamb aged 138 days. The relative frequency of PrPSc within enteric somata was interdependent on plexus location and neurochemical type. Interestingly, PrPSc was observed more frequently within myenteric neurons than in submucosal neurons (PGP 9.5; OR = 1.72, 95% confidence interval = 1.21–2.44), and was observed within the myenteric plexus approximately 4× (2.16–6.94) more frequently in somatostatin neurons