The SCID-hu Thy/Liv mouse and human fetal thymic organ culture (HF-TOC) models have been used to explore the pathophysiologic mechanisms of HIV-1 infection in the thymus. We report here that HIV-1 infection of the SCID-hu Thy/Liv mouse leads to the induction of MHC class I (MHCI) expression on CD4+ CD8+ (DP) thymocytes, which normally express low levels of MHCI. Induction of MHCI on DP thymocytes in HIV-1-infected Thy/Liv organs precedes their depletion and correlates with the pathogenic activity of the HIV-1 isolates. Both MHCI protein and mRNA are induced in thymocytes from HIV-1- infected Thy/Liv organs, indicating induction of MHCI gene expression. Indirect mechanisms are involved, because only a fraction (<10%) of the DP thymocytes were directly infected by HIV-1, although the majority of DP thymocytes are induced to express high levels of MHCI. We further demonstrate that IL-10 is induced in HIV-1-infected thymus organs. Similar HIV-1-mediated induction of MHCI expression was observed in HF-TOC assays. Exogenous IL-10 in HF-TOC induces MHCI expression on DP thymocytes. Therefore, HIV-1 infection of the thymus organ leads to induction of MHCI expression on immature thymocytes via indirect mechanisms involving IL-10. Overexpression of MHCI on DP thymocytes can interfere with thymocyte maturation and may contribute to HIV-1-induced thymocyte depletion.
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Journal of Immunology|
|Publication status||Published - 15 Jun 1999|