HIV-infected microglia mediate cathepsin B-induced neurotoxicity.

Research paper by Frances F Zenón, Yisel Y Cantres-Rosario, Radhika R Adiga, Mariangeline M Gonzalez, Eillen E Rodriguez-Franco, Dianne D Langford, Loyda M LM Melendez

Indexed on: 21 Jun '15Published on: 21 Jun '15Published in: Journal of NeuroVirology


HIV-1-infected mononuclear phagocytes release soluble factors that affect the homeostasis in tissue. HIV-1 can prompt metabolic encephalopathy with the addition of neuronal dysfunction and apoptosis. Recently, we reported that HIV-1 enhances the expression and secretion of bioactive cathepsin B in monocyte-derived macrophages, ultimately contributing to neuronal apoptosis. In this research, we asked if microglia respond to HIV infection similarly by modifying the expression, secretion, and neurotoxic potential of cathepsin B and determined the in vivo relevance of these findings. HIV-1ADA-infected human primary microglia and CHME-5 microglia cell line were assessed for expression and activity of cathepsin B, its inhibitors, cystatins B and C, and the neurotoxicity associated with these changes. Human primary neurons were exposed to supernatants from HIV-infected and uninfected microglia in the presence of cathepsin B inhibitors and apoptosis was assessed by TUNEL. Microglial expression of cathepsin B was validated in brain tissue from HIV encephalitis (HIVE) patients. HIV-infected microglia secreted significantly greater levels of cathepsin B, cystatin B, and cystatin C compared to uninfected cells. Increased apoptosis was observed in neurons exposed to supernatants from HIV-1 infected microglia at day 12 post-infection. The cathepsin B inhibitor CA-074 and cathepsin B antibody prevented neuronal apoptosis. Increased microglia-derived cathepsin B, cystatin B, and cystatin C and caspase-3+ neurons were detected in HIVE brains compared to controls. Our results suggest that HIV-1-induced cathepsin B production in microglia contributes to neuronal apoptosis and may be an important factor in neuronal death associated with HIVE.