• A pivotal role for Interferon-α receptor-1 in neuronal injury induced by HIV-1.

A pivotal role for Interferon-α receptor-1 in neuronal injury induced by HIV-1.

Journal of neuroinflammation (2020-07-31)
Hina Singh, Daniel Ojeda-Juárez, Ricky Maung, Rohan Shah, Amanda J Roberts, Marcus Kaul

HIV-1 infection remains a major public health concern despite effective combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). The virus enters the central nervous system (CNS) early in infection and continues to cause HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND). The pathogenic mechanisms of HIV-associated brain injury remain incompletely understood. Since HIV-1 activates the type I interferon system, which signals via interferon-α receptor (IFNAR) 1 and 2, this study investigated the potential role of IFNAR1 in HIV-induced neurotoxicity. We cross-bred HIVgp120-transgenic (tg) and IFNAR1 knockout (IFNAR1KO) mice. At 11-14 months of age, we performed a behavioral assessment and subsequently analyzed neuropathological alterations using deconvolution and quantitative immunofluorescence microscopy, quantitative RT-PCR, and bioinformatics. Western blotting of brain lysates and an in vitro neurotoxicity assay were employed for analysis of cellular signaling pathways. We show that IFNAR1KO results in partial, sex-dependent protection from neuronal injury and behavioral deficits in a transgenic model of HIV-induced brain injury. The IFNAR1KO rescues spatial memory and ameliorates loss of presynaptic terminals preferentially in female HIVgp120tg mice. Similarly, expression of genes involved in neurotransmission reveals sex-dependent effects of IFNAR1KO and HIVgp120. In contrast, IFNAR1-deficiency, independent of sex, limits damage to neuronal dendrites, microgliosis, and activation of p38 MAPK and restores ERK activity in the HIVgp120tg brain. In vitro, inhibition of p38 MAPK abrogates neurotoxicity caused similarly by blockade of ERK kinase and HIVgp120. Our findings indicate that IFNAR1 plays a pivotal role in both sex-dependent and independent processes of neuronal injury and behavioral impairment triggered by HIV-1.

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