Effects of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 on astrocyte gene expression and function: potential role in neuropathogenesis

TitleEffects of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 on astrocyte gene expression and function: potential role in neuropathogenesis
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsWang, Z, Trillo-Pazos, G, Kim, SY, Canki, M, Morgello, S, Sharer, LR, Gelbard, HA, Su, ZZ, Kang, DC, Brooks, AI, Fisher, PB, Volsky, DJ
JournalJournal of NeuroVirology
Volume10 Suppl 1
Date Published2004

Neurodegeneration and dementia caused by human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection of the brain are common complications of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) reduced the incidence of HIV-1-associated dementia, but so far had no effect on the high frequency of milder neurological disorders caused by HIV-1. This indicates that some neuropathogenic processes persist during limited HIV-1 replication in the central nervous system (CNS). The authors are evaluating the hypothesis that interaction of HIV-1 with astrocytes, which bind HIV-1 but support limited productive HIV-1 infection, may contribute to these processes by disrupting astrocyte functions that are important for neuronal activity or survival. Using laser-capture microdissection on brain tissue samples from HIV-1-infected individuals, we found that HIV-1 DNA can be detected in up to 1% of cortical and basal ganglia astrocytes, thus confirming HIV-1 infection in astrocytes from symptomatic patients. Using rapid subtraction hybridization, the authors cloned and identified 25 messenger RNAs in primary human fetal astrocytes either up-regulated or down-regulated by native HIV-1 infection or exposure to gp120 in vitro. Extending this approach to gene microarray analysis using Affymetrix U133A/B gene chips, the authors determined that HIV-1 alters globally and significantly the overall program of gene expression in astrocytes, including changes in transcripts coding for cytokines, G-coupled protein receptors, transcription factors, and others. Focusing on a specific astrocyte function relevant to neuropathogenesis, the authors showed that exposure of astrocytes to HIV-1 or gp120 in vitro impairs the ability of the cells to transport L-glutamate and the authors related this defect to transcriptional inhibition of the EAAT2 glutamate transporter gene. These findings define new pathways through which HIV-1 may contribute to neuropathogenesis under conditions of limited virus replication in the brain.