Background: Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) restores inflammatory immune responses in AIDS patients which may unmask previous subclinical infections or paradoxically exacerbate symptoms of opportunistic infections. In resource-poor settings, 25% of patients receiving HAART may develop CNS-related immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS). Here we describe a reliable mouse model to study underlying immunopathological mechanisms of CNS-IRIS.Methods: Utilizing our HSV brain infection model and mice with MAIDS, we investigated the effect of immune reconstitution on MAIDS mice harboring opportunistic viral brain infection. Using multi-color flow cytometry, we quantitatively measured the cellular infiltrate and microglial activation.Results: Infection with the LP-BM5 retroviral mixture was found to confer susceptibility to herpes simplex virus (HSV)-1 brain infection to normally-resistant C57BL/6 mice. Increased susceptibility to brain infection was due to severe immunodeficiency at 8 wks p.i. and a marked increase in programmed death-1 (PD-1) expression on CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells. Both T-cell loss and opportunistic brain infection were associated with high level PD-1 expression because PD-1-knockout mice infected with LP-BM5 did not exhibit lymphopenia and retained resistance to HSV-1. In addition, HSV-infection of MAIDS mice stimulated peripheral immune cell infiltration into the brain and its ensuing microglial activation. Interestingly, while opportunistic herpes virus brain infection of C57BL/6 MAIDS mice was not itself lethal, when T-cell immunity was reconstituted through adoptive transfer of virus-specific CD3+ T-cells, it resulted in significant mortality among recipients. This immune reconstitution-induced mortality was associated with exacerbated neuroinflammation, as determined by MHC class II expression on resident microglia and elevated levels of Th1 cytokines in the brain.Conclusions: Taken together, these results indicate development of an immune reconstitution disease within the central nervous system (CNS-IRD). Experimental immune reconstitution disease of the CNS using T-cell repopulation of lymphopenic murine hosts harboring opportunistic brain infections may help elucidate neuroimmunoregulatory networks that produce CNS-IRIS in patients initiating HAART.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This project was supported by Award Number MH-066703 from the National Institute of Mental Health.