To ascertain whether viruses present at the time of primary viremia can infect the central nervous system and to determine if microglial tropism is distinct from tropism for monocyte-derived macrophages (MDM), 27 human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) isolates obtained from acutely infected individuals, as well as laboratory strains, were assayed far their ability to replicate in primary adult microglial cultures and in MDM. Most of the isolates replicated equally well in both microglia and MDM, but several isolates replicated preferentially in one of the two cell types, differing by as much as 40-fold in p24(gag) production. This indicated that while MDM and microglial tropism overlap, a subset of isolates is particularly tropic for one of the two cell types. One isolate was further adapted to microglia by 15 sequential passages, raising the peak p24 concentration produced by 1,000- fold. In addition, the passaged virus induced marked cytopathologic changes (vacuolization and syncytium formation) in infected microglial cultures. Sequence comparison of the V3 loop of unpassaged and multiply passaged virus revealed amino acid changes shown to be associated with isolates from patients with HIV dementia. Our data support the hypothesis that HIV-1 infection can be established in the central nervous system by viruses present early in HIV infection, that some of these viruses are particularly tropic for microglia, and that adaptation in this cell type can result in the selection of a pool of predominantly microglia-tropic (neurotropic) viruses.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science