Evaluation of anti-prion activity of congo red and its derivatives in experimentally infected hamsters

Giorgio Poli, Piera Anna Martino, Stefania Villa, Gabriela Carcassola, Maria Laura Giannino, Paola Dall'Ara, Claudia Pollera, Selina Iussich, Vito M. Tranquillo, Silvio Bareggi, Paolo Mantegazza, Wilma Ponti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Among transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE), particularly dreadful are the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), because of its epidemic character, and the new variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in man, possibly related to BSE prion, through the intake of infected food. To treat TSE, many potentially therapeutic agents have been tested: some of them, among which is Congo Red (CAS 573-58-0, CR), delayed the onset of symptoms in scrapie-infected rodents, and some CR derivatives proved to be effective in vitro. The capacity of a synthesized CR derivative (CR-A) and of the aromatic central benzidine rings of CR (CR-B) to abrogate scrapie-induced disease in experimentally infected hamsters was assayed. CR, used as reference substance, administered i.e. after pre-incubatlon with the scrapie inoculum, was strongly effective in slowing the progression of the infection, while both CR-A and CR-B, administered alone or together, were not effective. Both CR-A and CR, when administered by subcutaneous route in i.e. scrapie-infected animals, prolonged the survival time in comparison to controls; CR-B was not effective. Moreover, both CR and CR-A were very effective in prolonging the survival time of i.p. scrapie-infected hamsters. The hypothesis of possible different mechanisms of interaction between CR or CR-A and the scrapie agent related to the chemical structures of the molecules is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)406-415
Number of pages10
JournalArzneimittel-Forschung/Drug Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • Bovine spongiform encephalopatdy (BSE)
  • CAS 573-58-0
  • Congo Red, anti-prion activity, derivatives, hamster
  • Prion protein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Drug Discovery
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Pharmacology


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