The persistence of HIV-1 viral reservoirs in the brain, despite treatment with combination antiretroviral therapy (cART), remains a critical roadblock for the development of a novel cure strategy for HIV-1. To enhance our understanding of viral reservoirs, two complementary studies were conducted to (1) evaluate the HIV-1 mRNA distribution pattern and major cell type expressing HIV-1 mRNA in the HIV-1 transgenic (Tg) rat, and (2) validate our findings by developing and critically testing a novel biological system to model active HIV-1 infection in the rat. First, a restricted, region-specific HIV-1 mRNA distribution pattern was observed in the HIV-1 Tg rat. Microglia were the predominant cell type expressing HIV-1 mRNA in the HIV-1 Tg rat. Second, we developed and critically tested a novel biological system to model key aspects of HIV-1 by infusing F344/N control rats with chimeric HIV (EcoHIV). In vitro, primary cultured microglia were treated with EcoHIV revealing prominent expression within 24 h of infection. In vivo, EcoHIV expression was observed seven days after stereotaxic injections. Following EcoHIV infection, microglia were the major cell type expressing HIV-1 mRNA, results that are consistent with observations in the HIV-1 Tg rat. Within eight weeks of infection, EcoHIV rats exhibited neurocognitive impairments and synaptic dysfunction, which may result from activation of the NogoA-NgR3/PirB-RhoA signaling pathway and/or neuroinflammation. Collectively, these studies enhance our understanding of HIV-1 viral reservoirs in the brain and offer a novel biological system to model HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders and associated comorbidities (i.e., drug abuse) in rats.
|State||Published - 2021|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding: This work was supported, in part, by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants HD043680, MH106392, DA013137, and NS100624. Partial funding was provided by a NIH T32 training grant in biomedical-behavioral science.
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
- Viral reservoir
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases