Lipopolysaccharide-induced HIV-1 expression in transgenic mice is mediated by tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-1, but not by interferon-γ nor interleukin-6

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BackgroundAs serum HIV-1 load correlates well with the prognosis of the disease, it is suggested that the viral load is one of the major determinants of the disease progression of AIDS. Accordingly, HIV-1 activation mechanisms were extensively studied in vitro, and involvement of cytokines including tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, interleukin (IL)-1, IL-6 and interferon (IFN)-γ has been suggested in this process. However, so far the roles of these cytokines in the HIV-1 expression in vivo have not been well elucidated because of the lack of appropriate animal disease models.ObjectiveTo elucidate the roles of cytokines in HIV-1 activation in vivo.Design and methodsTransgenic mice carrying a defective HIV-1 genome were used as a model for HIV-1 carriers. In order to examine the possible involvement of cytokines in HIV-1 expression, TNF-α-, IL-1-, IL-6- and IFN-γ-deficient HIV-1 transgenic mice, were produced and HIV-1 expression was analyzed after activation with bacterial lipopolysaccharides (LPS).ResultsHIV-1 expression in the transgenic mouse spleen was activated 10- to 20-fold by LPS, and the serum p24 Gag protein levels reached 400 pg/ml, which is nearly equal to the levels that occur in AIDS patients. However, this augmentation was suppressed by 60% in TNF-α-deficient mice and by 40% in IL-1α/β-deficient mice. In contrast, no suppression was observed in either IL-6-, IFN-γ-, IL-1α, or IL-1β-deficient mice.ConclusionsResults suggest that TNF-α and IL-1 play important roles in HIV-1 gene activation and selective suppression of these cytokines could improve clinical prognosis and potentially slow progression of the disease.

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