Nitrosative damage during retrovirus infection-induced neuropathic pain

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Background: Peripheral neuropathy is currently the most common neurological complication in HIV-infected individuals, occurring in 35-50% of patients undergoing combination anti-retroviral therapy. Data have shown that distal symmetric polyneuropathy develops in mice by 6 weeks following infection with the LP-BM5 retrovirus mixture. Previous work from our laboratory has demonstrated that glial cells modulate antiviral T-cell effector responses through the programmed death (PD)-1: PD-L1 pathway, thereby limiting the deleterious consequences of unrestrained neuroinflammation. Methods: Using the MouseMet electronic von Frey system, we assessed hind-paw mechanical hypersensitivity in LP-BM5-infected wild-type (WT) and PD-1 KO animals. Using multi-color flow cytometry, we quantitatively assessed cellular infiltration and microglial activation. Using real-time RT-PCR, we assessed viral load, expression of IFN-γ, iNOS, and MHC class II. Using western blotting, we measured protein nitrosylation within the lumbar spinal cord (LSC) and dorsal root ganglion (DRG). Histochemical staining was performed to analyze the presence of CD3, ionized calcium binding adaptor molecule (Iba)-1, MHCII, nitrotyrosine, isolectin B4 (IB4) binding, and neurofilament 200 (NF200). Statistical analyses were carried out using graphpad prism. Results: Hind-paw mechanical hypersensitivity observed in LP-BM5-infected animals was associated with significantly increased lymphocyte infiltration into the spinal cord and DRG. We also observed elevated expression of IFN-γ (in LSC and DRG) and MHC II (on resident microglia in LSC). We detected elevated levels of 3-nitrotyrosine within the LSC and DRG of LP-BM5-infected animals, an indicator of nitric oxide (NO)-induced protein damage. Moreover, we observed 3-nitrotyrosine in both small (IB4 + ) and large (NF200 + ) DRG sensory neurons. Additionally, infected PD-1 KO animals displayed significantly greater mechanical hypersensitivity than WT or uninfected mice at 4 weeks post-infection (p.i.). Accelerated onset of hind-paw hypersensitivity in PD-1 KO animals was associated with significantly increased infiltration of CD4 + and CD8 + T lymphocytes, macrophages, and microglial activation at early time points. Importantly, we also observed elevated levels of 3-nitrotyrosine and iNOS in infected PD-1 KO animals when compared with WT animals. Conclusions: Results reported here connect peripheral immune cell infiltration and reactive gliosis with nitrosative damage. These data may help elucidate how retroviral infection-induced neuroinflammatory networks contribute to nerve damage and neuropathic pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number66
JournalJournal of Neuroinflammation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 5 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by award DA-039464 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Author(s).


  • LP-BM5
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Nitrosylation
  • PD-1 KO
  • Reactive gliosis


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