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Pathology of Negri Bodies

Dr Sampurna Roy MD





Negri bodies are discrete, intracytoplasmic, deeply eosinophilic inclusions that measure several microns in diameter.


1) Histopathology of rabies, brain. Characteristic Negri bodies are present within a Purkinje cell of the cerebellum in this patient who died of rabies. CDC/Dr. Makonnen Fekadu

2) Negri bodies - CDC/Dr. Daniel P. Perl    (wikimedia-commons)

In about 75% of cases of rabies these can be seen on hematoxylin and eosin stained sections. 

Related post: Pathology of Rabies

Since first described by Negri in 1903, the presence of the Negri bodies are practically pathognomic for rabies and are an important diagnostic finding.  

They occur in neurons of the brain stem, particularly those in the hippocampus, and in the Purkinje cells of the cerebellum.  

Ultrastructural studies have shown that Negri body consists of a mass of nucleocapsids surrounded by viral particles budding from intracytoplasmic membranes. 

Those bodies can be seen in axons, and it is in this way that virus spreads from the central nervous system to many organs of the body.

Because Negri bodies are usually seen in intact neurons, they are found away from the inflammatory, nonspecific lesions.

Rabies viral antigens can be demonstrated in infected cells by means of fluorescent antibody technique.

Antigens can be shown to be present in cells in the absence of Negri bodies, and hence this technique is much more sensitive than the search of sections of brain for the pathognomonic cytoplasmic inclusions.


Further reading:

Functional Characterization of Negri Bodies (NBs) in Rabies .

Is the Negri body specific for rabies?

A Histochemical Study of the Negri Bodies of Rabies

A case of human rabies and ultrastructure of the Negri body.

The electron microscopy of rabies inclusion (Negri) bodies

A Rapid Method for Demonstrating Negri Bodies in Tissue

Electron micrographs of Negri bodies found in rabies

Functional characterization of Negri bodies (NBs) in rabies virus-infected cells: Evidence that NBs are sites of viral transcription and replication.



Dr Sampurna Roy  MD

Consultant  Histopathologist (Kolkata - India)






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