Atypical inflammation in the central nervous system in prion disease

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The inflammatory response in prion diseases is dominated by microglial activation. Contrary to their profile in vitro none of the pro-inflammatory cytokines interleukin-1β, interleukin-6, or tumour necrosis factor-α are significantly upregulated in the ME7 model of prion disease. However, two major inflammatory mediators are elevated: transforming growth factor-β1 and prostaglandin E2. This cytokine profile is the same as that reported for macrophages during phagocytosis of apoptotic cells and indeed transforming growth factor-β1 and prostaglandin E2 are responsible for the downregulated phenotype of these macrophages. Transforming growth fact-or-β1 may also have roles in extracellular matrix deposition and in amyloidogenesis and may play a direct role in disease pathogenesis. There is also now evidence to suggest that a peripheral infection, and its consequent systemic cytokine expression, may drive central nervous system cytokine expression and perhaps exacerbate disease.

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