Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is an efficiently transmitted, fatal, and progressive prion disease of cervids with an as yet to be fully clarified host range. While outbred domestic cats (Felis catus) have recently been shown to be susceptible to experimental CWD infection, the neuropathologic features of the infection are lacking. Such information is vital to provide diagnostic power in the event of natural interspecies transmission and insights into host and strain interactions in interspecies prion infection. Using light microscopy and immunohistochemistry, we detail the topographic pattern of neural spongiosis (the “lesion profile”) and the distribution of misfolded prion protein in the primary and secondary passage of feline CWD (FelCWD). We also evaluated cellular and subcellular associations between misfolded prion protein (PrPD) and central nervous system neurons and glial cell populations. From these studies, we (1) describe the novel neuropathologic profile of FelCWD, which is distinct from either cervid CWD or feline spongiform encephalopathy (FSE), and (2) provide evidence of serial passage-associated interspecies prion adaptation. In addition, we demonstrate through confocal analysis the successful co-localization of PrPD with neurons, astrocytes, microglia, lysosomes, and synaptophysin, which, in part, implicates each of these in the neuropathology of FelCWD. In conclusion, this work illustrates the simultaneous role of both host and strain in the development of a unique FelCWD neuropathologic profile and that such a profile can be used to discriminate between FelCWD and FSE.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship and/or publication of this article: Supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH): RO1-NS-061902 and 1K01RR031488-01A2.
- chronic wasting disease
- feline spongiform encephalopathy
- species barrier
- transmissible spongiform encephalopathy