Loss of Perineuronal Net in ME7 Prion Disease

Sarah L Franklin, Seth Love, J Richard T Greene, Samar Betmouni
Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology 2008, 67 (3): 189-99
Microglial activation and behavioral abnormalities occur before neuronal loss in experimental murine prion disease; the behavioral changes coincide with a reduction in synaptic plasticity. Because synaptic plasticity depends on an intact perineuronal net (PN), a specialized extracellular matrix that surrounds parvalbumin (PV)-positive GABAergic (gamma-aminobutyric acid [GABA]) inhibitory interneurons, we investigated the temporal relationships between microglial activation and loss of PN and PV-positive neurons in ME7 murine prion disease. Anesthetized C57Bl/6J mice received bilateral intracerebral microinjections of ME7-infected or normal brain homogenate into the dorsal hippocampus. Microglial activation, PrP accumulation, the number of PV-positive interneurons, and Wisteria floribunda agglutinin-positive neurons (i.e. those with an intact PN) were assessed in the ventral CA1 and subiculum at 4, 8, 12, 16, and 20 weeks postinjection. Hippocampal areas and total neuron numbers in the ventral CA1 and subiculum were also determined. Loss of PN coincided with early microglial activation and with a reduction in synaptic plasticity. No significant loss of PV-positive interneurons was observed. Our findings suggest that the substrate of the earliest synaptic and behavioral abnormalities in murine prion disease may be inflammatory microglia-mediated degradation of the PN.

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