Enhanced Expression of Proinflammatory Cytokines in the Central Nervous System Is Associated with Neuroinvasion by Simian Immunodeficiency Virus and the Development of Encephalitis

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Publisher: American Society for Microbiology

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Inflammatory cytokines are believed to play an important role in the pathogenesis of human immunodeficiency virus type 1-associated encephalitis. To examine this in the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-infected macaque model of neuroAIDS, inflammatory cytokine gene expression was evaluated in the brains of macaques infected with pathogenic SIVmac251 by reverse transcriptase PCR. Interleukin-1 beta was readily detected in the brains of all animals evaluated, regardless of infection status or duration of infection. Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and gamma interferon (IFN-γ) transcripts were undetectable in the brains of uninfected control animals but were upregulated at 7 and 14 days postinoculation. At the terminal stage of infection, TNF-α and IFN-γ transcripts were coexpressed in the brains of four of five animals with SIV encephalitis (SIVE). Within an encephalitic brain, TNF-α and IFN-γ transcripts were detected in six of seven regions with histologic evidence of SIVE, suggesting a direct relationship between neuropathology and altered cytokine gene expression. With combined fluorescent in situ hybridization and immunofluorescence, TNF-α-expressing cells were frequently identified as CD68-positive macrophages within perivascular lesions. These observations provide evidence that cytokines produced by activated inflammatory macrophages are an important element in the pathogenesis of SIVE.