Pulmonary lymphoid cell activation and cytokine expression in murine AIDS-associated interstitial pneumonitis

D A Cohen, E A Fitzpatrick, C Hartsfield, M N Gillespie, M Avdiushko, A M Kaplan
American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology 1997, 16 (2): 153-61
Limited information is available about the pathogenesis of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)-associated idiopathic interstitial pneumonitis, a common noninfectious complication of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Infection of C57B1/6 mice with LP-BM5 retrovirus, a murine model of AIDS, leads to development of a diffuse interstitial pneumonitis that displays many features of human AIDS-associated interstitial pneumonitis. To further characterize the cellular and molecular features of this lung disease, the temporal development of cellular infiltration, cytokine expression, and virus replication were evaluated in lung tissue of virus-infected mice. Persistent expression of viral RNA was detectable in lungs as early as 1 wk after infection. Infiltration of the lungs by CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, by IgG+ and IgA+ B cells, and by macrophages was observed by 4 wk after infection and continued through 8 wk of infection. Histologically, cellular infiltration was most pronounced in peribronchial and perivascular regions, whereas inflammation of alveolar septae and alveolar spaces was minimal. In contrast to normals, T cells from infected lungs were immunodeficient in that they failed to proliferate in response to the mitogen concanavalin A (ConA). However, evaluation of cytokine mRNA expression by interstitial lung lymphoid cells indicated that cells from infected lungs were chronically activated, in that elevated expression of interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) and interleukin-10 (IL-10) was observed throughout the course of infection. Similarly, expression by interstitial lung lymphoid cells of mRNA for the proinflammatory cytokine IL-1 and the fibrogenic cytokine transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) was also increased following infection. These results indicate that retrovirus-induced immunodeficiency in mice is associated with infiltration and chronic activation of lymphoid cells in the lungs. Furthermore, simultaneous expression of IL-10, IFN-gamma, and TGF-beta suggests that cytokine-expressing cells in infected lungs may be unresponsive to inhibitory and antiinflammatory effects of IL-10 and/or TGF-beta, thus contributing to chronicity of inflammation in this disorder.

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