Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 17675520
J. Immunol. 2007 Aug;179(4):2576-83
The blood-brain barrier (BBB), which constitutes the interface between blood and cerebral parenchyma, has been shown to be disrupted during retroviral associated neuromyelopathies. Human T cell leukemia virus (HTLV-1)-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis is a slowly progressive neurodegenerative disease, in which evidence of BBB breakdown has been demonstrated by the presence of lymphocytic infiltrates in the CNS and plasma protein leakage through cerebral endothelium. Using an in vitro human BBB model, we investigated the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in endothelial changes induced by HTLV-1-infected lymphocytes. We demonstrate that coculture with infected lymphocytes induces an increase in paracellular endothelial permeability and transcellular migration, via IL-1alpha and TNF-alpha secretion. This disruption is associated with tight junction disorganization between endothelial cells, and alterations in the expression pattern of tight junction proteins such as zonula occludens 1. These changes could be prevented by inhibition of the NF-kappaB pathway or of myosin light chain kinase activity. Such disorganization was confirmed in histological sections of spinal cord from an HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis patient. Based on this BBB model, the present data indicate that HTLV-1-infected lymphocytes can induce BBB breakdown and may be responsible for the CNS infiltration that occurs in the early steps of retroviral-associated neuromyelopathies.