Upon reactivation of quiescent neurotropic viruses antigen (Ag)-specific brain resident-memory CD8+ T-cells (bTRM) may respond to de novo-produced viral Ag through the rapid release of IFN-γ, which drives subsequent interferon-stimulated gene expression in surrounding microglia. Through this mechanism, a small number of adaptive bTRM may amplify responses to viral reactivation leading to an organ-wide innate protective state. Over time, this brain-wide innate immune activation likely has cumulative neurotoxic and neurocognitive consequences. We have previously shown that HIV-1 p24 Ag-specific bTRM persist within the murine brain using a heterologous prime-CNS boost strategy. In response to Ag restimulation, these bTRM display rapid and robust recall responses, which subsequently activate glial cells. In this study, we hypothesized that repeated challenges to viral antigen (Ag) (modeling repeated episodes of viral reactivation) culminate in prolonged reactive gliosis and exacerbated neurotoxicity. To address this question, mice were first immunized with adenovirus vectors expressing the HIV p24 capsid protein, followed by a CNS-boost using Pr55Gag/Env virus-like particles (HIV-VLPs). Following the establishment of the bTRM population [>30 days (d)], prime-CNS boost animals were then subjected to in vivo challenge, as well as re-challenge (at 14 d post-challenge), using the immunodominant HIV-1 AI9 CD8+ T-cell epitope peptide. In these studies, Ag re-challenge resulted in prolonged expression of microglial activation markers and an increased proliferative response, longer than the challenge group. This continued expression of MHCII and PD-L1 (activation markers), as well as Ki67 (proliferative marker), was observed at 7, 14, and 30 days post-AI9 re-challenge. Additionally, in vivo re-challenge resulted in continued production of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) with elevated levels observed at 7, 14 and 30 days post re-challenge. Interestingly, iNOS expression was significantly lower among challenged animals when compared to re-challenged groups. Furthermore, in vivo specific Ag re-challenge produced lower levels of arginase (Arg)-1 when compared with the challenged group. Taken together, these results indicate that repeated Ag-specific stimulation of adaptive immune responses leads to cumulative dysregulated microglial cell activation.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This project was supported by award number NS-038836 from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; and MH-066703 from the National Institute of Mental Health.
© Copyright © 2021 Prasad, Sheng, Hu, Chauhan and Lokensgard.
- immune activation
- reactive gliosis
- resident memory T-cells
- viral reactivation