HIV dementia (HIVD), a disease that is apparently mediated by neurotoxins and viral proteins secreted by HIV infected microglia, is characterized neuropathologically by an increased number of activated microglia in the brains of affected individuals. Consequently, the rational design of potential therapeutic strategies should take into account the mechanisms that lead to microglial activation and to their increased prominence in the adult brain. In this regard, one leading hypothesis proposes that microglia are recruited to specific sites in the central nervous system (CNS) as a result of interactions between microglial chemokine receptors and chemokines, or even the viral glycoprotein gp120, which binds chemokine receptors in the process of cellular entry. Adult microglia express the functional chemokine receptors CCR5 and CXCR4 molecules that mediate chemotaxis in these and other cell types. We determined that purified adult microglial cultures contain a heterogeneous population with respect to their ability to respond to the α- and β-chemokines, SDF1α, and MIP-1β. A mean of 14.6% of the microglia assayed responded to both α- and β-chemokines (CCR5+CXCR4+ phenotype); 45.4% of microglia were phenotyped as CCR5+CXCR4-; 12.9% of the microglia were CXCR4+CCR5-; and 27.0% of microglia did not respond to either chemokine. No increase in intracellular calcium levels was seen in the vast majority of microglia exposed to the soluble HIV envelope protein, gp120, or to HIV envelope (gp120/gp41) expressed on MLV virus pseudotypes. However, exposure of microglia to soluble fractalkine or to other chemokines resulted in an intracellular calcium flux. Our results raise the possibility of microglial heterogeneity with respect to their response to chemokines, and indicate that any effects due to gp120 are likely to be considerably less robust than the response of microglia to the natural ligands of their chemokine receptors, for example SDF1α and MIP-1β.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience