Open Access Research

Brain microglia were activated in sporadic CJD but almost unchanged in fatal familial insomnia and G114V genetic CJD

Qi Shi1, Wu-Ling Xie1, BaoYun Zhang1, Li-Na Chen1, Yin Xu1, Ke Wang1, Ke Ren1, Xiao-Mei Zhang1, Cao Chen1, Jin Zhang1 and Xiao-Ping Dong12*

Author Affiliations

1 State Key Laboratory for Infectious Disease Prevention and Control, Collaborative Innovation Center for Diagnosis and Treatment of Infectious Diseases (Hangzhou), National Institute for Viral Disease Control and Prevention; Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Chang-Bai Rd 155, Beijing 102206, People’s Republic of China

2 Chinese Academy of Sciences Key Laboratory of Pathogenic Microbiology and Immunology, Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China

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Virology Journal 2013, 10:216  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-10-216

Published: 1 July 2013



Microglial activations have been described in different subtypes of human prion diseases such as sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), variant CJD, Kuru and Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker disease (GSS). However, the situation of microglia in other genetic prion diseases such as fatal familial insomnia (FFI) and familial CJD remains less understood. The brain microglia was evaluated comparatively between the FFI, G114V and sCJD cases in the study.


Specific Western blots, immunohistochemical and immunofluorescent assays were used to detect the changes of microglia and ELISA tests were used for levels of inflammatory cytokines.


Western blots, immunohistochemical and immunofluorescent assays illustrated almost unchanged microglia in the temporal lobes of FFI and G114V gCJD, but obviously increased in those of sCJD. The Iba1-levels maintained comparable in six different brain regions of FFI and G114V cases, including thalamus, cingulate gyrus, frontal cortex, parietal cortex, occipital cortex and temporal cortex. ELISA tests for inflammatory cytokines revealed significantly up-regulated IL-1β, IL-6 and TNF-α in the brain homogenates from sCJD, but not in those from FFI and G114V gCJD.


Data here demonstrates silent brain microglia in FFI and G114V gCJD but obviously increased in sCJD, which reflects various pathogenesis of different human prion diseases subtypes.

Prions; Microglia; Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease; Fatal familial insomnia; G114V; Cytokines