Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-associated dementia is a neurodegenerative syndrome characterized by cognitive decline, personality change, and motor deficits. HIV-associated encephalitis (HAE), the neuropathology responsible for HIV-associated dementia involves the formation of multinucleated giant cells or syncytia. In this article we describe the apoptotic pathways activated in the brains of HAE-affected patients. Approximately 50% of multinuclear giant cells exhibited apoptotic DNA fragmentation as detected by the terminal dUTP nick-end labeling technique. In addition, the presence of syncytia in the frontal cortex of ∼35% of HAE patients correlated with the number of cells expressing the HIV-1 protein p24. Histochemical and immunohistochemical analyses revealed that HAE-associated syncytia underwent apoptosis through a mitochondrial pathway previously delineated for HIV-1 envelope-elicited syncytia in vitro. We observed over-expression of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), a kinase that mediates activation of the pro-apoptotic transcription factor p53, and p53-dependent up-regulation of two effectors of mitochondrial apoptosis, namely the BH3-only proteins Puma and transglutaminase type 2 (TG2). Interestingly, although mTOR activation and Puma induction were observed in dying syncytia and neurons, IkB phosphorylation and TG2 up-regulation were only found in syncytia. These findings provide substantial new information on the cell death mechanisms that regulate HAE, suggesting an important pathogenetic role of syncytia in the disease.
|Number of pages||10|
|Journal||American Journal of Pathology|
|Publication status||Published - Sep 2005|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine