Spongy state (status spongiosus) and inhibition of Na,K-ATPase: a pathogenetic theory

Med Hypotheses. 1995 Mar;44(3):173-8. doi: 10.1016/0306-9877(95)90132-9.


Spongiform encephalopathies are characterized above all by spongiosis. This neuropathological characteristic is morphologically mimed by in vivo inhibition of cerebral brain Na,K-ATPase by means of subdural administration of ouabain. In this paper we underline the possibility that the 'spongiotic state' in other diseases might also be caused by the inhibition of this enzyme, thus hypothesizing that it is the enzyme itself that is targeted by the infective agent. The infective agent could, we believe, be shown to be linked to the enzyme if it were separated from the infected brain.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / enzymology
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological
  • Ouabain / pharmacology
  • Prion Diseases / pathology
  • Prion Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • Ouabain
  • Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase