Human herpesvirus 6A induces apoptosis of primary human fetal astrocytes via both caspase-dependent and -independent pathways
1 Department of Neurosurgery, First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing 210029, China
2 Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing 210029, China
3 Tumor Immunobiology Program, James Graham Brown Cancer Center, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40202, USA
Virology Journal 2011, 8:530 doi:10.1186/1743-422X-8-530Published: 12 December 2011
Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) is a T-lymphtropic and neurotropic virus that can infect various types of cells. Sequential studies reported that apoptosis of glia and neurons induced by HHV-6 might act a potential trigger for some central nervous system (CNS) diseases. HHV-6 is involved in the pathogenesis of encephalitis, multiple sclerosis (MS) and fatigue syndrome. However, the mechanisms responsible for the apoptosis of infected CNS cells induced by HHV-6 are poorly understood. In this study, we investigated the cell death processes of primary human fetal astrocytes (PHFAs) during productive HHV-6A infection and the underlying mechanisms.
HHV-6A can cause productive infection in primary human fetal astrocytes. Annexin V-PI staining and electron microscopic analysis indicated that HHV-6A was an inducer of apoptosis. The cell death was associated with activation of caspase-3 and cleavage of poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP), which is known to be an important substrate for activated caspase-3. Caspase-8 and -9 were also significantly activated in HHV-6A-infected cells. Moreover, HHV-6A infection led to Bax up-regulation and Bcl-2 down-regulation. HHV-6A infection increased the release of Smac/Diablo, AIF and cytochrome c from mitochondria to cytosol, which induced apoptosis via the caspase-dependent and -independent pathways. In addition, we also found that anti-apoptotic factors such as IAPs and NF-κB decreased in HHV-6A infected PHFAs.
This is the first demonstration of caspase-dependent and -independent apoptosis in HHV-6A-infected glial cells. These findings would be helpful in understanding the mechanisms of CNS diseases caused by HHV-6.