Immune cells are pivotal in the reaction to injury, whereupon, under ideal conditions, repair and resolution phases restore homeostasis following initial acute inflammation. Immune cell activation and reprogramming require transcriptional changes that can only be initiated if epigenetic alterations occur. Recently, accelerated deciphering of epigenetic mechanisms has extended knowledge of epigenetic regulation, including long-distance chromatin remodeling, DNA methylation, posttranslational histone modifications, and involvement of small and long noncoding RNAs. Epigenetic changes have been linked to aspects of immune cell development, activation, and differentiation. Furthermore, genome-wide epigenetic landscapes have been established for some immune cells, including tissue-resident macrophages, and blood-derived cells including T cells. The epigenetic mechanisms underlying developmental steps from hematopoietic stem cells to fully differentiated immune cells led to development of epigenetic technologies and insights into general rules of epigenetic regulation. Compared with more advanced research areas, epigenetic reprogramming of immune cells in injury remains in its infancy. While the early epigenetic mechanisms supporting activation of the immune response to injury have been studied, less is known about resolution and repair phases and cell type–specific changes. We review prominent recent findings concerning injury-mediated epigenetic reprogramming, particularly in stroke and myocardial infarction. Lastly, we illustrate how single-cell technologies will be crucial to understanding epigenetic reprogramming in the complex sequential processes following injury.
Katarzyna Placek, Joachim L. Schultze, Anna C. Aschenbrenner
Transcription factor fusion genes create oncoproteins that drive oncogenesis and represent challenging therapeutic targets. Understanding the molecular targets by which such fusion oncoproteins promote malignancy offers an approach to develop rational treatment strategies to improve clinical outcomes. Capicua–double homeobox 4 (CIC-DUX4) is a transcription factor fusion oncoprotein that defines certain undifferentiated round cell sarcomas with high metastatic propensity and poor clinical outcomes. The molecular targets regulated by the CIC-DUX4 oncoprotein that promote this aggressive malignancy remain largely unknown. We demonstrated that increased expression of ETS variant 4 (ETV4) and cyclin E1 (CCNE1) occurs via neomorphic, direct effects of CIC-DUX4 and drives tumor metastasis and survival, respectively. We uncovered a molecular dependence on the CCNE-CDK2 cell cycle complex that renders CIC-DUX4–expressing tumors sensitive to inhibition of the CCNE-CDK2 complex, suggesting a therapeutic strategy for CIC-DUX4–expressing tumors. Our findings highlight a paradigm of functional diversification of transcriptional repertoires controlled by a genetically aberrant transcriptional regulator, with therapeutic implications.
Ross A. Okimoto, Wei Wu, Shigeki Nanjo, Victor Olivas, Yone K. Lin, Rovingaile Kriska Ponce, Rieko Oyama, Tadashi Kondo, Trever G. Bivona
Fibroblasts from patients with Tangier disease carrying ATP-binding cassette A1 (ABCA1) loss-of-function mutations are characterized by cardiolipin accumulation, a mitochondrial-specific phospholipid. Suppression of ABCA1 expression occurs in glomeruli from patients with diabetic kidney disease (DKD) and in human podocytes exposed to DKD sera collected prior to the development of DKD. We demonstrated that siRNA ABCA1 knockdown in podocytes led to reduced oxygen consumption capabilities associated with alterations in the oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) complexes and with cardiolipin accumulation. Podocyte-specific deletion of Abca1 (Abca1fl/fl) rendered mice susceptible to DKD, and pharmacological induction of ABCA1 improved established DKD. This was not mediated by free cholesterol, as genetic deletion of sterol-o-acyltransferase-1 (SOAT1) in Abca1fl/fl mice was sufficient to cause free cholesterol accumulation but did not cause glomerular injury. Instead, cardiolipin mediates ABCA1-dependent susceptibility to podocyte injury, as inhibition of cardiolipin peroxidation with elamipretide improved DKD in vivo and prevented ABCA1-dependent podocyte injury in vitro and in vivo. Collectively, we describe a pathway definitively linking ABCA1 deficiency to cardiolipin-driven mitochondrial dysfunction. We demonstrated that this pathway is relevant to DKD and that ABCA1 inducers or inhibitors of cardiolipin peroxidation may each represent therapeutic strategies for the treatment of established DKD.
G. Michelle Ducasa, Alla Mitrofanova, Shamroop K. Mallela, Xiaochen Liu, Judith Molina, Alexis Sloan, Christopher E. Pedigo, Mengyuan Ge, Javier Varona Santos, Yanio Hernandez, Jin-Ju Kim, Cyrille Maugeais, Armando J. Mendez, Viji Nair, Matthias Kretzler, George W. Burke, Robert G. Nelson, Yu Ishimoto, Reiko Inagi, Santanu Banerjee, Shaoyi Liu, Hazel H. Szeto, Sandra Merscher, Flavia Fontanesi, Alessia Fornoni
HIV integrates its provirus into the host genome and establishes latent infection. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) can control HIV viremia, but cannot eradicate or cure the virus. Approaches targeting host epigenetic machinery to repress HIV, leading to an aviremic state free of ART, are needed. Bromodomain and extraterminal (BET) family protein BRD4 is an epigenetic reader involved in HIV transcriptional regulation. Using structure-guided drug design, we identified a small molecule (ZL0580) that induced epigenetic suppression of HIV via BRD4. We showed that ZL0580 induced HIV suppression in multiple in vitro and ex vivo cell models. Combination treatment of cells of aviremic HIV-infected individuals with ART and ZL0580 revealed that ZL0580 accelerated HIV suppression during ART and delayed viral rebound after ART cessation. Mechanistically different from the BET/BRD4 pan-inhibitor JQ1, which nonselectively binds to BD1 and BD2 domains of all BET proteins, ZL0580 selectively bound to BD1 domain of BRD4. We further demonstrate that ZL0580 induced HIV suppression by inhibiting Tat transactivation and transcription elongation as well as by inducing repressive chromatin structure at the HIV promoter. Our findings establish a proof of concept for modulation of BRD4 to epigenetically suppress HIV and provide a promising chemical scaffold for the development of probes and/or therapeutic agents for HIV epigenetic silencing.
Qingli Niu, Zhiqing Liu, Edrous Alamer, Xiuzhen Fan, Haiying Chen, Janice Endsley, Benjamin B. Gelman, Bing Tian, Jerome H. Kim, Nelson L. Michael, Merlin L. Robb, Jintanat Ananworanich, Jia Zhou, Haitao Hu
Skin and intestinal epithelial barriers play a pivotal role in protecting underlying tissues from harsh external environments. The protective role of these epithelia is, in part, dependent on a remarkable capacity to restore barrier function and tissue homeostasis after injury. In response to damage, epithelial wounds repair by a series of events that integrate epithelial responses with those of resident and infiltrating immune cells including neutrophils and monocytes/macrophages. Compromise of this complex interplay predisposes to development of chronic nonhealing wounds, contributing to morbidity and mortality of many diseases. Improved understanding of crosstalk between epithelial and immune cells during wound repair is necessary for development of better pro-resolving strategies to treat debilitating complications of disorders ranging from inflammatory bowel disease to diabetes. In this Review we focus on epithelial and innate immune cell interactions that mediate wound healing and restoration of tissue homeostasis in the skin and intestine.
Jennifer C. Brazil, Miguel Quiros, Asma Nusrat, Charles A. Parkos
Organ transplantation is now a preferred treatment for end-stage organ failure. Among the challenges for ensuring excellent clinical outcomes for transplant recipients is good initial allograft function at the time of organ implantation. This is determined in part by the functional status of the donor and donor organ, functional status of the recipient, and conduct of the operative procedure. Despite optimization of these variables, organ transplantation is still often plagued by substantial initial dysfunction, variably referred to as slow or delayed graft function, or in the most extreme cases, primary graft nonfunction necessitating urgent regrafting. In this issue of the JCI, Nakamura, Kageyama, Ito, Hirao, and colleagues investigate a potential role for the recipient’s microbiome in determining graft function after liver transplantation and demonstrate the benefits of antibiotic pretreatment in both a mouse model and in human patients.
Jonathan S. Bromberg, Joseph R. Scalea, Emmanuel F. Mongodin
Although modifications of gut microbiota with antibiotics (Abx) influence mouse skin and cardiac allografts, its role in orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) remains unknown. We aimed to determine whether and how recipient Abx pretreatment may affect hepatic ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI) and OLT outcomes. Mice (C57BL/6) with or without Abx treatment (10 days) were transplanted with allogeneic (BALB/c) cold-stored (18 hours) livers, followed by liver and blood sampling (6 hours). We divided 264 human OLT recipients on the basis of duration of pre-OLT Abx treatment into control (Abx-free/Abx <10 days; n = 108) and Abx treatment (Abx ≥10days; n = 156) groups; OLT biopsy (Bx) samples were collected 2 hours after OLT (n = 52). Abx in mice mitigated IRI-stressed OLT (IRI-OLT), decreased CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein homologous protein (CHOP) (endoplasmic reticulum [ER] stress), enhanced LC3B (autophagy), and inhibited inflammation, whereas it increased serum prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and hepatic PGE2 receptor 4 (EP4) expression. PGE2 increased EP4, suppressed CHOP, and induced autophagosome formation in hepatocyte cultures in an EP4-dependent manner. An EP4 antagonist restored CHOP, suppressed LC3B, and recreated IRI-OLT. Remarkably, human recipients of Abx treatment plus OLT (Abx-OLT), despite severe pretransplantation clinical acuity, had higher EP4 and LC3B levels but lower CHOP levels, which coincided with improved hepatocellular function (serum aspartate aminotransferase/serum aspartate aminotransferase [sALT/sAST]) and a decreased incidence of early allograft dysfunction (EAD). Multivariate analysis identified “Abx-free/Abx <10 days” as a predictive factor of EAD. This study documents the benefits of Abx pretreatment in liver transplant recipients, identifies ER stress and autophagy regulation by the PGE2/EP4 axis as a homeostatic underpinning, and points to the microbiome as a therapeutic target in OLT.
Kojiro Nakamura, Shoichi Kageyama, Takahiro Ito, Hirofumi Hirao, Kentaro Kadono, Antony Aziz, Kenneth J. Dery, Matthew J. Everly, Kojiro Taura, Shinji Uemoto, Douglas G. Farmer, Fady M. Kaldas, Ronald W. Busuttil, Jerzy W. Kupiec-Weglinski
Irreversible T cell exhaustion limits the efficacy of programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) blockade. We observed that dual CD40-TLR4 stimulation within a single tumor restored PD-1 sensitivity and that this regimen triggered a systemic tumor-specific CD8+ T cell response. This approach effectively treated established tumors in diverse syngeneic cancer models, and the systemic effect was dependent on the injected tumor, indicating that treated tumors were converted into necessary components of this therapy. Strikingly, this approach was associated with the absence of exhausted PD-1hi T cells in treated and distant tumors, while sparing the intervening draining lymph node and spleen. Furthermore, patients with transcription changes like those induced by this therapy experienced improved progression-free survival with anti–PD-1 treatment. Dual CD40-TLR4 activation within a single tumor is thus an approach for overcoming resistance to PD-1 blockade that is unique in its ability to cause the loss of exhausted T cells within tumors while sparing nonmalignant tissues.
Danny N. Khalil, Nathan Suek, Luis Felipe Campesato, Sadna Budhu, David Redmond, Robert M. Samstein, Chirag Krishna, Katherine S. Panageas, Marinela Capanu, Sean Houghton, Daniel Hirschhorn, Roberta Zappasodi, Rachel Giese, Billel Gasmi, Michael Schneider, Aditi Gupta, James J. Harding, John Alec Moral, Vinod P. Balachandran, Jedd D. Wolchok, Taha Merghoub
Oxidative stress plays an important role in aging-related neurodegeneration. This study used littermates of WT and Nox2-knockout (Nox2KO) mice plus endothelial cell–specific human Nox2 overexpression–transgenic (HuNox2Tg) mice to investigate Nox2-derived ROS in brain aging. Compared with young WT mice (3–4 months), aging WT mice (20–22 months) had obvious metabolic disorders and loss of locomotor activity. Aging WT brains had high levels of angiotensin II (Ang II) and ROS production; activation of ERK1/2, p53, and γH2AX; and losses of capillaries and neurons. However, these abnormalities were markedly reduced in aging Nox2KO brains. HuNox2Tg brains at middle age (11–12 months) already had high levels of ROS production and activation of stress signaling pathways similar to those found in aging WT brains. The mechanism of Ang II–induced endothelial Nox2 activation in capillary damage was examined using primary brain microvascular endothelial cells. The clinical significance of Nox2-derived ROS in aging-related loss of cerebral capillaries and neurons was investigated using postmortem midbrain tissues of young (25–38 years) and elderly (61–85 years) adults. In conclusion, Nox2 activation is an important mechanism in aging-related cerebral capillary rarefaction and reduced brain function, with the possibility of a key role for endothelial cells.
Lampson M. Fan, Li Geng, Sarah Cahill-Smith, Fangfei Liu, Gillian Douglas, Chris-Anne Mckenzie, Colin Smith, Gavin Brooks, Keith M. Channon, Jian-Mei Li
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a multiorgan progressive genetic disease caused by loss of functional cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) channel. Previously, we identified a significant dysfunction in CF cells and model mice of the transcription factor nuclear factor E2–related factor-2 (Nrf2), a major regulator of redox balance and inflammatory signaling. Here we report that the approved F508del CFTR correctors VX809 and VX661 recover diminished Nrf2 function and colocalization with CFTR in CF human primary bronchial epithelia by proximity ligation assay, immunoprecipitation, and immunofluorescence, concordant with CFTR correction. F508del CFTR correctors induced Nrf2 nuclear translocation, Nrf2-dependent luciferase activity, and transcriptional activation of target genes. Rescue of Nrf2 function by VX809/VX661 was dependent on significant correction of F508del and was blocked by inhibition of corrected channel function, or high-level shRNA knockdown of CFTR or F508del CFTR. Mechanistically, F508del CFTR modulation restored Nrf2 phosphorylation and its interaction with the coactivator CREB-binding protein (CBP). Our findings demonstrate that sufficient modulation of F508del CFTR function corrects Nrf2 dysfunction in CF.
Dana C. Borcherding, Matthew E. Siefert, Songbai Lin, John Brewington, Hesham Sadek, John P. Clancy, Scott M. Plafker, Assem G. Ziady
Jenny M. Brown, Jarrad M. Scarlett, Michael W. Schwartz
The precise regulation of synaptic dopamine (DA) content by the DA transporter (DAT) ensures the phasic nature of the DA signal, which underlies the ability of DA to encode reward prediction error, thereby driving motivation, attention, and behavioral learning. Disruptions to the DA system are implicated in a number of neuropsychiatric disorders, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and, more recently, autism spectrum disorder (ASD). An ASD-associated de novo mutation in the SLC6A3 gene resulting in a threonine-to-methionine substitution at site 356 (DAT T356M) was recently identified and has been shown to drive persistent reverse transport of DA (i.e., anomalous DA efflux) in transfected cells and to drive hyperlocomotion in Drosophila melanogaster. A corresponding mutation in the leucine transporter, a DAT-homologous transporter, promotes an outward-facing transporter conformation upon substrate binding, a conformation possibly underlying anomalous DA efflux. Here, we investigated in vivo the impact of this ASD-associated mutation on DA signaling and ASD-associated behaviors. We found that mice homozygous for this mutation displayed impaired striatal DA neurotransmission and altered DA-dependent behaviors that correspond with some of the behavioral phenotypes observed in ASD.
Gabriella E. DiCarlo, Jenny I. Aguilar, Heinrich J. G. Matthies, Fiona E. Harrison, Kyle E. Bundschuh, Alyssa West, Parastoo Hashemi, Freja Herborg, Mattias Rickhag, Hao Chen, Ulrik Gether, Mark T. Wallace, Aurelio Galli
The migration of leukocytes into the CNS drives the neuropathology of multiple sclerosis (MS). It is likely that this penetration utilizes energy resources that remain to be defined. Using the experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) model of MS, we determined that macrophages within the perivascular cuff of postcapillary venules are highly glycolytic, as manifested by strong expression of lactate dehydrogenase A (LDHA), which converts pyruvate to lactate. These macrophages expressed prominent levels of monocarboxylate transporter-4 (MCT-4), which is specialized in the secretion of lactate from glycolytic cells. The functional relevance of glycolysis was confirmed by siRNA-mediated knockdown of LDHA and MCT-4, which decreased lactate secretion and macrophage transmigration. MCT-4 was in turn regulated by EMMPRIN (also known as CD147), as determined through coexpression and co-IP studies and siRNA-mediated EMMPRIN silencing. The functional relevance of MCT-4–EMMPRIN interaction was confirmed by lower macrophage transmigration in culture using the MCT-4 inhibitor α-cyano-4-hydroxy-cinnamic acid (CHCA), a cinnamon derivative. CHCA also reduced leukocyte infiltration and the clinical severity of EAE. Relevance to MS was corroborated by the strong expression of MCT-4, EMMPRIN, and LDHA in perivascular macrophages in MS brains. These results detail the metabolism of macrophages for transmigration from perivascular cuffs into the CNS parenchyma and identify CHCA and diet as potential modulators of neuroinflammation in MS.
Deepak Kumar Kaushik, Anindita Bhattacharya, Reza Mirzaei, Khalil S. Rawji, Younghee Ahn, Jong M. Rho, V. Wee Yong
The gut microbiome is a key regulator of bone health that affects postnatal skeletal development and skeletal involution. Alterations in microbiota composition and host responses to the microbiota contribute to pathological bone loss, while changes in microbiota composition that prevent, or reverse, bone loss may be achieved by nutritional supplements with prebiotics and probiotics. One mechanism whereby microbes influence organs of the body is through the production of metabolites that diffuse from the gut into the systemic circulation. Recently, short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which are generated by fermentation of complex carbohydrates, have emerged as key regulatory metabolites produced by the gut microbiota. This Review will focus on the effects of SCFAs on the musculoskeletal system and discuss the mechanisms whereby SCFAs regulate bone cells.
Mario M. Zaiss, Rheinallt M. Jones, Georg Schett, Roberto Pacifici
Programmed death-1 receptor ligand 1 (PD-L1) is a promising therapeutic target in aggressive cancers. However, immune landscapes and cancer hallmarks of human PD-L1+ tumors as well as their roles in determining therapeutic efficacies are unknown. Here, we showed, in detailed studies of gene data regarding 9769 patients of 32 types of human cancers, that PD-L1 could not exclusively represent the IFN-γ signature and potentially signified proinflammatory myeloid responses in a tumor. PD-L1 heterogeneity endowed by local immune landscapes controlled cancer hallmarks and clinical outcomes of patients. Mechanically, NF-κB signal elicited by macrophage inflammatory responses generated PD-L1+ cancer cells exhibiting capabilities to aggressively survive, support angiogenesis, and metastasize, whereas STAT1 signal triggered by activated T cells induced PD-L1+ cancer cells susceptive to apoptosis. Importantly, PD-L1+ cancer cells generated by macrophages established great resistance to conventional chemotherapy, cytotoxicity of tumor-specific effector T cells, and therapy of immune-checkpoint blockade. Therapeutic strategy combining immune-checkpoint blockade with macrophage depletion or NF-κB inhibition in vivo effectively and successfully elicited cancer regression. Our results provide insight into the functional features of PD-L1+ tumors and suggest that strategies to influence functional activities of inflammatory cells may benefit immune-checkpoint blockade therapy.
Yuan Wei, Qiyi Zhao, Zhiliang Gao, Xiang-Ming Lao, Wei-Ming Lin, Dong-Ping Chen, Ming Mu, Chun-Xiang Huang, Zheng-Yu Liu, Bo Li, Limin Zheng, Dong-Ming Kuang
Glycosylation of immune receptors and ligands, such as T cell receptor and coinhibitory molecules, regulates immune signaling activation and immune surveillance. However, how oncogenic signaling initiates glycosylation of coinhibitory molecules to induce immunosuppression remains unclear. Here we show that IL-6–activated JAK1 phosphorylates programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) Tyr112, which recruits the endoplasmic reticulum–associated N-glycosyltransferase STT3A to catalyze PD-L1 glycosylation and maintain PD-L1 stability. Targeting of IL-6 by IL-6 antibody induced synergistic T cell killing effects when combined with anti–T cell immunoglobulin mucin-3 (anti–Tim-3) therapy in animal models. A positive correlation between IL-6 and PD-L1 expression was also observed in hepatocellular carcinoma patient tumor tissues. These results identify a mechanism regulating PD-L1 glycosylation initiation and suggest the combination of anti–IL-6 and anti–Tim-3 as an effective marker-guided therapeutic strategy.
Li-Chuan Chan, Chia-Wei Li, Weiya Xia, Jung-Mao Hsu, Heng-Huan Lee, Jong-Ho Cha, Hung-Ling Wang, Wen-Hao Yang, Er-Yen Yen, Wei-Chao Chang, Zhengyu Zha, Seung-Oe Lim, Yun-Ju Lai, Chunxiao Liu, Jielin Liu, Qiongzhu Dong, Yi Yang, Linlin Sun, Yongkun Wei, Lei Nie, Jennifer L. Hsu, Hui Li, Qinghai Ye, Manal M. Hassan, Hesham M. Amin, Ahmed O. Kaseb, Xin Lin, Shao-Chun Wang, Mien-Chie Hung
The presence of tumor-infiltrating T cells is associated with favorable patient outcomes, yet most pancreatic cancers are immunologically silent and resistant to currently available immunotherapies. Here we show using a syngeneic orthotopic implantation model of pancreatic cancer that Pik3ca regulates tumor immunogenicity. Genetic silencing of Pik3ca in KrasG12D/Trp53R172H-driven pancreatic tumors resulted in infiltration of T cells, complete tumor regression, and 100% survival of immunocompetent host mice. By contrast, Pik3ca-null tumors implanted in T cell–deficient mice progressed and killed all of the animals. Adoptive transfer of tumor antigen–experienced T cells eliminated Pik3ca-null tumors in immunodeficient mice. Loss of PIK3CA or inhibition of its effector AKT increased the expression of MHC class I and CD80 on tumor cells. These changes contributed to the increased susceptibility of Pik3ca-null tumors to T cell surveillance. Our results indicate that tumor cell PIK3CA-AKT signaling limits T cell recognition and clearance of pancreatic cancer cells. Strategies that target this pathway may yield an effective immunotherapy for this cancer.
Nithya Sivaram, Patrick A. McLaughlin, Han V. Han, Oleksi Petrenko, Ya-Ping Jiang, Lisa M. Ballou, Kien Pham, Chen Liu, Adrianus W.M. van der Velden, Richard Z. Lin
Cytosolic arginine sensor for mTORC1 subunits 1 and 2 (CASTOR1 and CASTOR2) inhibit the mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) upon arginine deprivation. mTORC1 regulates cell proliferation, survival, and metabolism and is often dysregulated in cancers, indicating that cancer cells may regulate CASTOR1 and CASTOR2 to control mTORC1 signaling and promote tumorigenesis. mTORC1 is the most effective therapeutic target of Kaposi sarcoma, which is caused by infection with the Kaposi sarcoma–associated herpesvirus (KSHV). Hence, KSHV-induced cellular transformation is a suitable model for investigating mTORC1 regulation in cancer cells. Currently, the mechanism of KSHV activation of mTORC1 in KSHV-induced cancers remains unclear. We showed that KSHV suppressed CASTOR1 and CASTOR2 expression to activate the mTORC1 pathway. CASTOR1 or CASTOR2 overexpression and mTOR inhibitors abolished cell proliferation and colony formation in soft agar of KSHV-transformed cells by attenuating mTORC1 activation. Furthermore, the KSHV-encoded miRNA miR-K4-5p, and probably miR-K1-5p, directly targeted CASTOR1 to inhibit its expression. Knockdown of miR-K1-5p and -K4-5p restored CASTOR1 expression and thereby attenuated mTORC1 activation. Overexpression of CASTOR1 or CASTOR2 and mTOR inhibitors abolished the activation of mTORC1 and growth transformation induced by pre–miR-K1 and -K4. Our results define the mechanism of KSHV activation of the mTORC1 pathway and establish the scientific basis for targeting this pathway to treat KSHV-associated cancers.
Tingting Li, Enguo Ju, Shou-Jiang Gao
BACKGROUND Persistence of HIV in sanctuary sites despite antiretroviral therapy (ART) presents a barrier to HIV remission and may affect neurocognitive function. We assessed HIV persistence in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and associations with inflammation and neurocognitive performance during long-term ART.METHODS Participants enrolled in the AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) HIV Reservoirs Cohort Study (A5321) underwent concurrent lumbar puncture, phlebotomy, and neurocognitive assessment. Cell-associated HIV DNA and HIV RNA (CA-DNA, CA-RNA) were measured by quantitative PCR (qPCR). in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and in cell pellets from CSF. In CSF supernatant and blood plasma, cell-free HIV RNA was quantified by qPCR with single copy sensitivity, and inflammatory biomarkers were measured by enzyme immunoassay.RESULTS Sixty-nine participants (97% male, median age 50 years, CD4 696 cells/mm3, plasma HIV RNA <100 copies/mL) were assessed after a median 8.6 years of ART. In CSF, cell-free RNA was detected in 4%, CA-RNA in 9%, and CA-DNA in 48% of participants (median level 2.1 copies/103 cells). Detection of cell-free CSF HIV RNA was associated with higher plasma HIV RNA (P = 0.007). CSF inflammatory biomarkers did not correlate with HIV persistence measures. Detection of CSF CA-DNA HIV was associated with worse neurocognitive outcomes including global deficit score (P = 0.005), even after adjusting for age and nadir CD4 count.CONCLUSION HIV-infected cells persist in CSF in almost half of individuals on long-term ART, and their detection is associated with poorer neurocognitive performance.FUNDING This observational study, AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) HIV Reservoirs Cohort Study (A5321), was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIAID and NIMH).
Serena Spudich, Kevin R. Robertson, Ronald J. Bosch, Rajesh T. Gandhi, Joshua C. Cyktor, Hanna Mar, Bernard J. Macatangay, Christina M. Lalama, Charles Rinaldo, Ann C. Collier, Catherine Godfrey, Joseph J. Eron, Deborah McMahon, Jana L. Jacobs, Dianna Koontz, Evelyn Hogg, Alyssa Vecchio, John W. Mellors
Neurologic involvement of HIV remains an important concern for patients, physicians, and investigators. Catastrophic decline is rarely seen in patients on combination antiretroviral therapy (cART); however, neurological decline remains a critical clinical challenge. In this issue of the JCI, Spudich and associates investigated the status of HIV in the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) and revealed ongoing presence of HIV in the nervous system. Surprisingly, even in the face of optimal treatment, including suppressed HIV RNA, almost half of the patients investigated showed cell-associated HIV (CA-HIV) DNA in the CSF. Spudich et al. find that persistence of HIV in CSF cells is associated with lower performance on neurocognitive testing. These findings emphasize the need to consider a viral-associated mechanism as playing a significant and potentially ongoing role in HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND).
David B. Clifford