Cortical neurons are a prominent source of the proinflammatory cytokine osteopontin in HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders

Katie Silva, Calixto Hope-Lucas, Tyesha White, Tai Kyung Hairston, Tatenda Rameau, Amanda Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The proinflammatory cytokine osteopontin (OPN) is elevated in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in individuals with HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) and remains so in those on suppressive antiretroviral therapy. To understand the pathophysiological significance of elevated OPN in the CNS, we sought to determine the cellular source of this cytokine. As HIV-1 replicates productively in macrophages/microglia, we tested whether these cells are the predominant producers of OPN in the brain. Stringent patient selection criteria, which excluded brain tissues from those with evidence of drug abuse and dependence, were used. Uninfected normal controls, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), HIV+ asymptomatic neurocognitive impairment (ANI), and HIV+ mild neurocognitive disorder (MND)/HIV-associated dementia (HAD) groups were included. Double-label immunohistochemistry for CNS cells and OPN was used to quantify OPN expression in astrocytes, macrophages/microglia, and neurons. While resident macrophages/microglia expressed OPN, astrocytes and unexpectedly neurons were also a major source of OPN. OPN levels in ionized Ca2+-binding adapter 1 (Iba1)/allograft inflammatory factor-1 (AIF-1)+ microglia in HIV+ ANI and MND/HAD exceeded those of HIV-negative controls and were comparable to expression seen in ALS. Moreover, in neurons, OPN was expressed at the highest levels in the HIV+ ANI group. These findings suggest that while infiltrating HIV-infected macrophages are most likely the initial source of OPN, resident CNS cells become activated and also express this inflammatory cytokine at significant levels. Moreover, as OPN levels are elevated compared to uninfected individuals and increases with the severity of impairment, it appears that the expression of OPN is persistent and sustained within the brain parenchyma in those that progress to HAND.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-185
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of neurovirology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015


  • AIF-1
  • Astrocytes
  • CD68
  • Iba-1
  • Inflammation
  • Macrophage
  • Microglia
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Neuroinflammation
  • Systemic inflammation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Virology


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