HIV Infection of Astrocytes PDF Print E-mail
Written by Eliseo A. Eugenin   
Friday, 08 July 2011 06:23

HIV infection of astrocytes a novel brain viral reservoir that uses gap junction channels to amplify toxicity and facilitate viral rebound.

thebrainAn article written by Eliseo A. Eugenin. Ph.D, Assistant Professor of Pathology Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) Investigator, Dept. of Pathology. F727, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 1300 Morris Park Avenue, Bronx, NY, 10461, USA 

IV-1 enters the brain approximately 2 weeks after primary infection and despite successful antiretroviral therapy (ART), central nervous system (CNS) infection and HIV associated neurologic disorders (HAND) still persist in 50 % of infected individuals. This CNS compromise has been associated with amplification of damage rather that the virus itself, especially in the current ART era that effectively reduces viral load to undetectable or low levels (Gannon et al., 2011). The amplification mechanisms that result in neurological disorders in HIV-1 infected individuals are not completely understood.

t was known for many years that HIV can infect few astrocytes and viral replication in these cells is extremely restricted (Conant et al., 1994; Tornatore et al., 1994; Brack-Werner, 1999; Ohagen et al., 1999; Schweighardt and Atwood, 2001). Thus, the scientific community did not continue to examine the importance of this cell type in the pathogenesis of AIDS and its role as a viral reservoir. In the last few years we began re-examining the role of these cells in the context of AIDS and NeuroAIDS. We demonstrated in agreement with previous reports, that HIV infects only few astrocytes in vitro and in vivo, and that viral replication is extremely low to undetectable (Eugenin and Berman, 2007; Eugenin et al., 2011). However and even thought only 5 % of the cells are infected, this cell type is the more abundant cell type in the brain, thus, the total number of infected cells correspond to a large number. Experiments to determine whether the virus alters cell death indicated that these infected cells in vivo and in vitro are protected from apoptosis, resulting in a perfect reservoir for the virus.

n addition, we detected that despite low to undetectable viral replication and numbers of infected cells, bystander killing of uninfected CNS cells surrounding these HIV infected astrocytes resulted in astrocyte, neuronal and endothelial apoptosis. This damage results in CNS dysfunction and BBB disruption even in the absence of viral replication. This is representative of the current ART era where viral replication and presence of highly infected cells is minimal.

e showed that gap junction channels, the only type of channel that connects directly the cytoplasm of two or more apposed cells (Saez et al., 2003), enable coordination of intercellular signals that are amplified from few HIV infected cells into uninfected cells. These channels normally coordinate different function such as metabolism, electrical signals, migration and intercellular signaling. In pathological conditions, gap junction channels in astrocytes are usually down regulated, but HIV infection by an unknown mechanism, hijacks this communication system to spread toxicity and inflammation. Thus, HIV infection maintains the viability of these few infected cells, inducing bystander killing of uninfected surrounding cells and enhancing inflammation, resulting in CNS damage by a gap junction dependent mechanism.



We propose that astrocytes are an important viral reservoir within the brain, and also that gap junction channels are key mediators of amplification of damage from these few infected cells to uninfected cells even in non replicating viral conditions.

e propose that astrocytes are an important viral reservoir within the brain, and also that gap junction channels are key mediators of amplification of damage from these few infected cells to uninfected cells even in non replicating viral conditions. Our data suggest that elimination of the toxic effect of these viral reservoirs requires the elimination of both, the HIV immortalized astrocytes and the toxic signals generated by the HIV infected cells and amplified by gap junctions. Thus, both systems contribute to the pathogenesis of HAND and AIDS.

-Brack-Werner R (1999) Astrocytes: HIV cellular reservoirs and important participants in neuropathogenesis. Aids 13:1-22.
Conant K, Tornatore C, Atwood W, Meyers K, Traub R, Major EO (1994) In vivo and in vitro infection of the astrocyte by HIV-1. Adv Neuroimmunol 4:287-289.
-Eugenin EA, Berman JW (2007) Gap junctions mediate human immunodeficiency virus-bystander killing in astrocytes. J Neurosci 27:12844-12850.
-Eugenin EA, Clements JE, Zink MC, Berman JW (2011) Human immunodeficiency virus infection of human astrocytes disrupts blood-brain barrier integrity by a gap junction-dependent mechanism. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience 31:9456-9465.
-Gannon P, Khan MZ, Kolson DL (2011) Current understanding of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders pathogenesis. Current opinion in neurology 24:275-283.
-Ohagen A, Ghosh S, He J, Huang K, Chen Y, Yuan M, Osathanondh R, Gartner S, Shi B, Shaw G, Gabuzda D (1999) Apoptosis induced by infection of primary brain cultures with diverse human immunodeficiency virus type 1 isolates: evidence for a role of the envelope. J Virol 73:897-906.
-Saez JC, Berthoud VM, Branes MC, Martinez AD, Beyer EC (2003) Plasma membrane channels formed by connexins: their regulation and functions. Physiol Rev 83:1359-1400.
-Schweighardt B, Atwood WJ (2001) HIV type 1 infection of human astrocytes is restricted by inefficient viral entry. AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses 17:1133-1142.
-Tornatore C, Chandra R, Berger JR, Major EO (1994) HIV-1 infection of subcortical astrocytes in the pediatric central nervous system. Neurology 44:481-487.



Key words: HIV astrocytes, HIV brain, HIV reservoirs
Last Updated on Friday, 08 July 2011 11:03

08.07.2011 (14:32:22)  
HIV-1 infection of astrocytes Yes No  

Excellent concept and evidence for continued HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders pathogenesis inspite of successful ART.

26.07.2011 (15:20:04)  
new data and reveling points Yes No  

this is really a great discovery that certainly is a new concept in the fight again reservoirs and HIV infection. The discovery of this new systems of amplification is a totally new concept that explains a lot of pathology observed in HIV infected individuals even in the current cART era

Vladimir Eremin 22.02.2012 (12:56:09)  
article Yes No  

Susceptibility of primary human glial fibrillary acidic protein positive brain cells to human immunodeficienc y virus infection in vitro: anti-HIV activity of memantine.
AIDS Research and human retroviruses, v.7,N 1., p.89-95, 1991



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