Baricitinib reverses HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders in a SCID mouse model and reservoir seeding in vitro.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Since HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HANDs) occur in up to half of HIV-positive individuals, even with combined antiretroviral therapy (cART), adjunctive therapies are needed. Chronic CNS inflammation contributes to HAND and HIV encephalitis (HIVE). Baricitinib is a JAK 1/2 inhibitor approved in the USA, EU, and Japan for rheumatoid arthritis, demonstrating potent inhibition of IL-6, D-dimer, CRP, TNF-α, IFN-α/β, and other pro-inflammatory cytokines. METHODS:Our modified murine HAND model was used to evaluate the ability of baricitinib to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and modulate monocyte/macrophage-driven HAND. Severity of HAND was measured by assessing cognitive performance of low- and high-dose baricitinib treated versus untreated HAND mice. The severity of brain neuroinflammation was evaluated in these mouse groups after flow cytometric analyses. We also assessed the ability of baricitinib to block events in myeloid and lymphoid cells in vitro that may undergird the persistence of HIV in the central nervous system (CNS) in primary human macrophages (Mϕ) and lymphocytes including HIV replication, HIV-induced activation, reservoir expansion, and reservoir maintenance. RESULTS:In vivo, both doses of 10 and 50 mg/kg qd baricitinib crossed the BBB and reversed behavioral abnormalities conferred by HIV infection. Moreover, baricitinib significantly reduced HIV-induced neuroinflammation marked by glial activation: activated microglia (MHCII+/CD45+) and astrogliosis (GFAP). Baricitinib also significantly reduced the percentage of p24+ human macrophages in mouse brains (p < 0.05 versus HAND mice; t test). In vitro, baricitinib significantly reduced markers of persistence, reservoir size, and reseeding in Mϕ. CONCLUSION:These results show that blocking the JAK/STAT pathway reverses cognitive deficits and curtails inflammatory markers in HAND in mice. Our group recently reported safety and tolerability of ruxolitinib in HIV-infected individuals (Marconi et al., Safety, tolerability and immunologic activity of ruxolitinib added to suppressive ART, 2019), underscoring potential safety and utility of JAK inhibitors for additional human trials. The data reported herein coupled with our recent human trial with JAK inhibitors provide compelling preclinical data and impetus for considering a trial of baricitinib in HAND individuals treated with cART to reverse cognitive deficits and key events driving viral persistence.
Project description:A hallmark of persistent HIV-1 infection in the central nervous system is increased activation of mononuclear phagocytes and surrounding astrogliosis, conferring persistent HIV-induced inflammation. This inflammation is believed to result in neuronal dysfunction and the clinical manifestations of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND). The Jak/STAT pathway is activated in macrophages/myeloid cells upon HIV-1 infection, modulating many pro-inflammatory pathways that result in HAND, thereby representing an attractive cellular target. Thus, the impact of ruxolitinib, a Janus Kinase (Jak) 1/2 inhibitor that is FDA approved for myelofibrosis and polycythemia vera, was assessed for its potential to inhibit HIV-1 replication in macrophages and HIV-induced activation in monocytes/macrophages in culture. In addition, a murine model of HIV encephalitis (HIVE) was used to assess the impact of ruxolitinib on histopathological features of HIVE, brain viral load, as well as its ability to penetrate the blood-brain-barrier (BBB). Ruxolitinib was found to inhibit HIV-1 replication in macrophages, HIV-induced activation of monocytes (CD14/CD16) and macrophages (HLA-DR, CCR5, and CD163) without apparent toxicity. In vivo, systemically administered ruxolitinib was detected in the brain during HIVE in SCID mice and markedly inhibited astrogliosis. Together, these data indicate that ruxolitinib reduces HIV-induced activation and infiltration of monocytes/macrophages in vitro, reduces the replication of HIV in vitro, penetrates the BBB when systemically administered in mice and reduces astrogliosis in the brains of mice with HIVE. These data suggest that ruxolitinib will be useful as a novel therapeutic to treat humans with HAND.
Project description:Despite advances in the treatment of HIV infection with ART, elucidating strategies to overcome HIV persistence, including blockade of viral reservoir establishment, maintenance, and expansion, remains a challenge. T cell homeostasis is a major driver of HIV persistence. Cytokines involved in regulating homeostasis of memory T cells, the major hub of the HIV reservoir, trigger the Jak-STAT pathway. We evaluated the ability of tofacitinib and ruxolitinib, two FDA-approved Jak inhibitors, to block seeding and maintenance of the HIV reservoir in vitro. We provide direct demonstration for involvement of the Jak-STAT pathway in HIV persistence in vivo, ex vivo, and in vitro; pSTAT5 strongly correlates with increased levels of integrated viral DNA in vivo, and in vitro Jak inhibitors reduce the frequency of CD4+ T cells harboring integrated HIV DNA. We show that Jak inhibitors block viral production from infected cells, inhibit γ-C receptor cytokine (IL-15)-induced viral reactivation from latent stores thereby preventing transmission of infectious particles to bystander activated T cells. These results show that dysregulation of the Jak-STAT pathway is associated with viral persistence in vivo, and that Jak inhibitors target key events downstream of γ-C cytokine (IL-2, IL-7 and IL-15) ligation to their receptors, impacting the magnitude of the HIV reservoir in all memory CD4 T cell subsets in vitro and ex vivo. Jak inhibitors represent a therapeutic modality to prevent key events of T cell activation that regulate HIV persistence and together, specific, potent blockade of these events may be integrated to future curative strategies.
Project description:The HIV accessory protein Nef modulates key immune evasion and pathogenic functions, and its encoding gene region exhibits high sequence diversity. Given the recent identification of early HIV-specific adaptive immune responses as novel correlates of HIV reservoir size, we hypothesized that viral factors that facilitate the evasion of such responses-namely, Nef genetic and functional diversity-might also influence reservoir establishment and/or persistence. We isolated baseline plasma HIV RNA-derived nef clones from 30 acute/early-infected individuals who participated in a clinical trial of early combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) (<6 months following infection) and assessed each Nef clone's ability to downregulate CD4 and human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I in vitro We then explored the relationships between baseline clinical, immunological, and virological characteristics and the HIV reservoir size measured 48 weeks following initiation of suppressive cART (where the reservoir size was quantified in terms of the proviral DNA loads as well as the levels of replication-competent HIV in CD4+ T cells). Maximal within-host Nef-mediated downregulation of HLA, but not CD4, correlated positively with post-cART proviral DNA levels (Spearman's R = 0.61, P = 0.0004) and replication-competent reservoir sizes (Spearman's R = 0.36, P = 0.056) in univariable analyses. Furthermore, the Nef-mediated HLA downregulation function was retained in final multivariable models adjusting for established clinical and immunological correlates of reservoir size. Finally, HIV subtype B-infected persons (n = 25) harbored significantly larger viral reservoirs than non-subtype B-infected persons (2 infected with subtype CRF01_AE and 3 infected with subtype G). Our results highlight a potentially important role of viral factors-in particular, HIV subtype and accessory protein function-in modulating viral reservoir establishment and persistence.IMPORTANCE While combination antiretroviral therapies (cART) have transformed HIV infection into a chronic manageable condition, they do not act upon the latent HIV reservoir and are therefore not curative. As HIV cure or remission should be more readily achievable in individuals with smaller HIV reservoirs, achieving a deeper understanding of the clinical, immunological, and virological determinants of reservoir size is critical to eradication efforts. We performed a post hoc analysis of 30 participants of a clinical trial of early cART who had previously been assessed in detail for their clinical, immunological, and reservoir size characteristics. We observed that the HIV subtype and autologous Nef-mediated HLA downregulation function correlated with the viral reservoir size measured approximately 1 year post-cART initiation. Our findings highlight virological characteristics-both genetic and functional-as possible novel determinants of HIV reservoir establishment and persistence.
Project description:Cytokines, many of which signal through the JAK-STAT (Janus kinase-Signal Transducers and Activators of Transcription) pathway, play a central role in the pathogenesis of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Currently three JAK inhibitors have been approved for clinical use in USA and/or Europe: tofacitinib for rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and ulcerative colitis, baricitinib for rheumatoid arthritis, and ruxolitinib for myeloproliferative neoplasms. The clinical JAK inhibitors target multiple JAKs at high potency and current research has focused on more selective JAK inhibitors, almost a dozen of which currently are being evaluated in clinical trials. In this narrative review, we summarize the status of the pan-JAK and selective JAK inhibitors approved or in clinical trials, and discuss the rationale for selective targeting of JAKs in inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
Project description:JAK-STAT signaling pathway has a crucial role in host innate immunity against viral infections, including HIV-1. We therefore examined the impact of HIV-1 infection and combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) on JAK-STAT signaling pathway. Compared to age-matched healthy donors (n = 18), HIV-1-infected subjects (n = 18) prior to cART had significantly lower expression of toll-like receptors (TLR-1/4/6/7/8/9), the IFN regulatory factors (IRF-3/7/9), and the antiviral factors (OAS-1, MxA, A3G, PKR, and Tetherin). Three months' cART partially restores the impaired functions of JAK-STAT-mediated antiviral immunity. We also found most factors had significantly positive correlations (p < 0.05) between each two factors in JAK-STAT pathway in healthy donors (98.25%, 168/171), but such significant positive associations were only found in small part of HIV-1-infected subjects (43.86%, 75/171), and stably increased during the cART (57.31%, 98/171 after 6 months' cART). With regard to the restoration of some HIV-1 restriction factors, HIV-1-infected subjects who had CD4+ T cell counts > 350//?l responded better to cART than those with the counts < 350/?l. These findings indicate that the impairment of JAK-STAT pathway may play a role in the immunopathogenesis of HIV-1 disease.
Project description:In this study, we examined the peripheral blood (PB) central memory (TCM) CD4(+) T cell subsets designated peripheral T follicular helper cells (pTfh cells) and non-pTfh cells to assess HIV permissiveness and persistence. Purified pTfh and non-pTfh cells from healthy HIV-negative donors were tested for HIV permissiveness using green fluorescent protein (GFP)-expressing HIV-1NL4-3/Ba-L, followed by viral reactivation using beads coated with anti-CD3/anti-CD28 monoclonal antibodies. The role of pTfh cells in HIV persistence was analyzed in 12 chronically HIV-1 infected patients before and 48 weeks after initiation of raltegravir-containing combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). Total cellular HIV-1 DNA and episomes containing two copies of the viral long terminal repeat (2LTR circles) were analyzed in using droplet digital PCR in the purified pTfh and non-pTfh cells. Activation-inducible HIV p24 expression was determined by flow cytometry. Results indicate that pTfh cells, in particular PD1(+) pTfh cells, showed greater permissiveness for HIV infection than non-pTfh cells. At week 48 on cART, HIV DNA levels were unchanged from pre-cART levels, although a significant decrease in 2LTR circles was observed in both cell subsets. Inducible HIV p24 expression was higher in pTfh cells than in non-pTfh cells, with the highest frequencies in the PD1(+) CXCR3(-) pTfh cell subset. Frequencies of HLADR(+) CD38(+) activated CD4 T cells correlated with 2LTR circles in pTfh and non-pTfh cells at both time points and with p24(+) cells at entry. In conclusion, among CD4 TCM cells in PB of aviremic patients on cART, pTfh cells, in particular the PD1(+) CXCR3(-) subset, constitute a major HIV reservoir that is sustained by ongoing residual immune activation. The inducible HIV p24 assay is useful for monitoring HIV reservoirs in defined CD4 T cell subsets.Identification of the type and nature of the cellular compartments of circulating HIV reservoirs is important for targeting of HIV cure strategies. In lymph nodes (LN), a subset of CD4 T cells called T follicular helper (Tfh) cells are preferentially infected by HIV. Central memory (TCM) CD4 T cells are the major cellular reservoir for HIV in peripheral blood and contain a subset of CD4 TCM cells expressing chemokine receptor CXCR5 similar in function to LN Tfh cells termed peripheral Tfh (pTfh) cells. We found that the circulating pTfh cells are highly susceptible to HIV infection and that in HIV-infected patients, HIV persists in these cells following plasma virus suppression with potent cART. These pTfh cells, which constitute a subset of TCM CD4 T cells, can be readily monitored in peripheral blood to assess HIV persistence.
Project description:INTRODUCTION:The JAK/STAT signaling pathway is involved in the immune-mediated inflammatory skin diseases atopic dermatitis (AD), vitiligo, and alopecia areata (AA), and represents a potential target when developing treatments. So far, no drugs targeting this pathway have been approved for the treatment of dermatological diseases. We reviewed the use of drugs blocking the JAK/STAT pathway in the aforementioned diseases. METHODS:An a priori protocol was published. We used Joanna Briggs Institute Reviewer's Manual methodology to conduct the review and PRISMA Extension for Scoping Review (PRISMA-ScR) to report results. MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, Scopus, and Web of Science databases were searched in a three-step approach on April 2019 by two researchers. RESULTS:Ninety-six mainly multicenter observational studies were included (66, 10, and 20 studies on AA, vitiligo, and AD, respectively). Tofacitinib and ruxolitinib were mainly used for the three diseases, and also upadacitinib, abrocitinib, baricitinib, cerdulatinib, delgocitinib, gusacitinib for AD, and baricitinib, PF-06700841, and PF-06651600 for AA. All patients with AD improved, whereas patients with vitiligo and patients with AA showed varied responses, including unresponsive cases. The safety profiles were similar for all drugs and diseases, mainly comprising mild or no adverse events. CONCLUSIONS:Evidence on the efficacy and safety of drugs targeting the JAK/STAT pathway for the treatment of patients with AD, vitiligo, or AA is increasing but is still of low quality.
Project description:Combined antiretroviral therapy (cART) does not eradicate HIV, which persists for years and can re-establish replication if treatment is stopped. The current challenge is identifying those tissues harboring virus through cART. Here, we used HIV env-nef single genome sequencing and HIV gag droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) to survey 50 tissues from five subjects on cART with no detectable plasma viral load at death. The spleen most consistently contained multiple proviral and expressed sequences (4/5 participants). Spleen-derived HIV demonstrated two distinct phylogenetic patterns: multiple identical sequences, often from different tissues, as well as diverse viral sequences on long terminal branches. Our results suggested that ddPCR may overestimate the size of the tissue-based viral reservoir. The spleen, a lymphatic organ at the intersection of the immune and circulatory systems, may play a key role in viral persistence.
Project description:Akt signaling plays a central role in many biological processes that are key players in human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) pathogenesis. The persistence of latent reservoirs in successfully treated patients, mainly located in macrophages and latently infected resting CD4+ T cells, remains a major obstacle in HIV-1 eradication. We assessed the in vitro effects of an HIV protease inhibitor (PI) and a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) on HIV-1 Nef-induced Akt activation in macrophages and on HIV-1 reactivation in U1 monocytoid cells. Ex vivo, we investigated the impact of combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) on Akt activation, as measured by flow cytometry, and on the viral reservoir size, quantified by qPCR, in monocytes and autologous resting CD4+ T cells from HIV-infected individuals (Trial registration: NCT02858414). We found that, in myeloid cells, both Akt activation and HIV-1 reactivation were inhibited by PI but not by NNRTI in vitro. Our results indicate that cART decreases Akt activation and reduces the size of the HIV reservoir in both monocytes and resting CD4+ T cells. Our study indicates that Akt activation could play a role in HIV reservoir formation, indicating that drugs which target Akt could be efficient for limiting its size in aviremic chronically infected patients.
Project description:SARS-CoV-2 infection of human airway epithelium activates genetic programs that lead to progressive hyperinflammation in COVID-19 patients. Here we report on the transcriptomic response of airway epithelium to interferons and its suppression by the JAK inhibitors Baricitinib and Ruxolitinib. There is a debate on the regulation of the conventional versus the novel intronic promoter inducing the short ACE2 isoform. Through RNA-seq and ChIP-seq analyses for activating chromatin marks and Polymerase II, we define the interferon-activated intronic regulatory region. Our results also support that the conventional ACE2 promoter is controlled by interferon.