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Virology. 1994 Dec;205(2):519-29.

The basic domain of the lentiviral Tat protein is responsible for damages in mouse brain: involvement of cytokines.

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Laboratoire de virologie, INSERM U 372, Marseille, France.


The HIV and visna lentiviruses induce an inflammatory reaction in the central nervous system (CNS) of the infected hosts leading to dysmyelination, demyelination, and neuronal loss. The basic domain of the transactivating Tat protein has been involved in CNS damage. Infusion of basic containing domain Tat peptides in the lateral ventricle (systemic injection) or in the grey matter, i.e., hippocampus and thalamus (local injection), induced an inflammatory process characterized by the formation of an edema and invasion of macrophage accompanied by reactive astrogliosis. Control peptides originating from either lentiviral proteins or irrelevant protein as ovalbumin did not lead to any inflammatory reaction or cell death. The inflammation led to the loss of ependymal cells in the lateral ventricles and neurons in the grey matter. RNA extracted from the Tat-injected hemisphere reacted with TNF-alpha, IL-1 alpha and beta, and IL-6 probes. The macrophage/microglia inducible nitric oxyde synthase was also expressed. Blockade of TNF-alpha by a pentoxifylline treatment led to the decrease of IL-1 and iNOS expression accompanied by a reduction of the volume of the lesions indicating that the Tat-induced lesions might be mediated by TNF production.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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