Neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration are common during prion infection, but the mechanisms that underlie these pathological features are not well understood. Several components of innate immunity, such as Toll-like receptor (TLR) 4 and Complement C1q, have been shown to influence prion disease. To identify additional components of innate immunity that might impact prion disease within the central nervous system (CNS), we screened RNA from brains of pre-clinical and clinical 22L-infected mice for alterations in genes associated with innate immunity. Transcription of several genes encoding damage-associated molecular pattern (DAMP) proteins and receptors were increased in the brains of prion-infected mice. To investigate the role of some of these proteins in prion disease of the CNS, we infected mice deficient in DAMP receptor genes Tlr2, C3ar1, and C5ar1 with 22L scrapie. Elimination of TLR2 accelerated disease by a median of 10 days, while lack of C3aR1 or C5aR1 had no effect on disease tempo. Histopathologically, all knockout mouse strains tested were similar to infected control mice in gliosis, vacuolation, and PrPSc deposition. Analysis of proinflammatory markers in the brains of infected knockout mice indicated only a few alterations in gene expression suggesting that C5aR1 and TLR2 signaling did not act synergistically in the brains of prion-infected mice. These results indicate that signaling through TLR2 confers partial neuroprotection during prion infection.
Carroll, J. A., Race, B., Williams, K., & Chesebro, B. (2018). Toll-like receptor 2 confers partial neuroprotection during prion disease. PLoS ONE, 13(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0208559