Background: Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) is a critical cytoprotective enzyme that limits oxidative stress, inflammation, and cellular injury within the central nervous system (CNS) and other tissues. We previously demonstrated that HO-1 protein expression is decreased within the brains of HIV+ subjects and that this HO-1 reduction correlates with CNS immune activation and neurocognitive dysfunction. To define a potential CNS protective role for HO-1 against HIV, we analyzed a well-characterized HIV autopsy cohort for two common HO-1 promoter region polymorphisms that are implicated in regulating HO-1 promoter transcriptional activity, a (GT)n dinucleotide repeat polymorphism and a single nucleotide polymorphism (A(-413)T). Shorter HO-1 (GT)n repeats and the 'A' SNP allele associate with higher HO-1 promoter activity. Methods: Brain dorsolateral prefrontal cortex tissue samples from an autopsy cohort of HIV-, HIV+, and HIV encephalitis (HIVE) subjects (n = 554) were analyzed as follows: HO-1 (GT)n polymorphism allele lengths were determined by PCR and capillary electrophoresis, A(-413)T SNP alleles were determined by PCR with allele specific probes, and RNA expression of selected neuroimmune markers was analyzed by quantitative PCR. Results: HIV+ subjects with shorter HO-1 (GT)n alleles had a significantly lower risk of HIVE; however, shorter HO-1 (GT)n alleles did not correlate with CNS or peripheral viral loads. In HIV+ subjects without HIVE, shorter HO-1 (GT)n alleles associated significantly with lower expression of brain type I interferon response markers (MX1, ISG15, and IRF1) and T-lymphocyte activation markers (CD38 and GZMB). No significant correlations were found between the HO-1 (GT)n repeat length and brain expression of macrophage markers (CD163, CD68), endothelial markers (PECAM1, VWF), the T-lymphocyte marker CD8A, or the B-lymphocyte maker CD19. Finally, we found no significant associations between the A(-413)T SNP and HIVE diagnosis, HIV viral loads, or any neuroimmune markers. Conclusion: Our data suggest that an individual's HO-1 promoter region (GT)n polymorphism allele repeat length exerts unique modifying risk effects on HIV-induced CNS neuroinflammation and associated neuropathogenesis. Shorter HO-1 (GT)n alleles increase HO-1 promoter activity, which could provide neuroprotection through decreased neuroimmune activation. Therapeutic strategies that induce HO-1 expression could decrease HIV-associated CNS neuroinflammation and decrease the risk for development of HIV neurological disease.
- Heme oxygenase-1
- HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders
- Immune activation
- Interferon-stimulated genes
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience