Role of Cytokines and Chemokines in Prion Infections of the Central Nervous System

Int J Dev Neurosci. 2004 Nov;22(7):497-505. doi: 10.1016/j.ijdevneu.2004.07.017.


Prion infections of the central nervous system (CNS) are characterised by a reactive gliosis and the subsequent degeneration of neuronal tissue. The activation of glial cells, which precedes neuronal death, is likely to be initially caused by the deposition of misfolded, proteinase K-resistant, isoforms (termed PrP(res)) of the prion protein (PrP) in the brain. Cytokines and chemokines released by PrP(res)-activated glia cells may contribute directly or indirectly to the disease development by enhancement and generalisation of the gliosis and via cytotoxicity for neurons. However, the actual role of prion-induced glia activation and subsequent cytokine/chemokine secretion in disease development is still far from clear. In the present work, we review our present knowledge concerning the functional biology of cytokines and chemokines in prion infections of the CNS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Central Nervous System Infections / complications
  • Central Nervous System Infections / metabolism
  • Central Nervous System Infections / pathology
  • Chemokines / metabolism*
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / etiology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / pathology
  • Neuroglia / metabolism*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Prion Diseases / complications
  • Prion Diseases / metabolism*
  • Prion Diseases / pathology
  • Prions / metabolism*


  • Chemokines
  • Cytokines
  • Prions