VEEV TC-83 Triggers Dysregulation of the Tryptophan–Kynurenine Pathway in the Central Nervous System That Correlates with Cognitive Impairment in Tg2576 Mice

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Abstract

Neurodegenerative diseases are chronic conditions affecting the central nervous system (CNS). Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the accumulation of amyloid beta in the limbic and cortical brain regions. AD is presumed to result from genetic abnormalities or environmental factors, including viral infections, which may have deleterious, long-term effects. In this study, we demonstrate that the Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) commonly induces neurodegeneration and long-term neurological or cognitive sequelae. Notably, the effects of VEEV infection can persistently influence gene expression in the mouse brain, suggesting a potential link between the observed neurodegenerative outcomes and long-term alterations in gene expression. Additionally, we show that alphavirus encephalitis exacerbates the neuropathological profile of AD through crosstalk between inflammatory and kynurenine pathways, generating a range of metabolites with potent effects. Using a mouse model for β-amyloidosis, Tg2576 mice, we found that cognitive deficits and brain pathology were more severe in Tg2576 mice infected with VEEV TC-83 compared to mock-infected controls. Thus, during immune activation, the kynurenine pathway plays a more active role in the VEEV TC-83-infected cells, leading to increases in the abundance of transcripts related to the kynurenine pathway of tryptophan metabolism. This pathway generates several metabolites with potent effects on neurotransmitter systems as well as on inflammation, as observed in VEEV TC-83-infected animals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number397
JournalPathogens
Volume13
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2024

Keywords

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase
  • neurodegeneration
  • neuroinflammation
  • quinolinic acid
  • TC-83

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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