Apoptosis of neurones, macrophages, and microglia occurs in the brains of paediatric patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) type 1 encephalitis, which is often associated with pre-mortem neurological disease (progressive encephalopathy). We have previously reported that TUNEL-positive neurones in brain tissue from paediatric patients with HIV type 1 encephalitis and progressive encephalopathy are strikingly devoid of the pro-apoptotic gene product Bax, in marked contrast to brain-resident macrophages and microglia. Using immunocytochemical methods, the present study demonstrate that neurones in patients with HIV type 1 encephalitis and progressive encephalopathy, as well as macrophages and microglia, but not astrocytes, overexpress caspase-3, a pro-apoptotic enzyme that is proteolytically activated downstream of Bax-Bcl-2 dysregulation. Co-localization of neuronal cytoplasmic caspase-3 and nuclear TUNEL staining, a marker for fragmented DNA, was also infrequently observed in brain tissue from patients with HIV type 1 encephalitis and progressive encephalopathy. These findings suggest that vulnerable neurones in brain tissue from patients with HIV virus type 1 encephalitis and progressive encephalopathy undergo apoptosis by a mechanism that involves upregulation of caspase-3 in a pathway that is independent of Bax-Bcl-2 dysregulation. Furthermore, caspase-3 upregulation in apoptotic neurones likely occurs prior to DNA fragmentation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Clinical Neurology
- Physiology (medical)