Since the advent of combination antiretroviral therapy (cART), pediatric HIV-1 (PHIV) has evolved from a fatal disease to a chronic disease as children perinatally infected with HIV-1 survive into adulthood. The HIV-1 transgenic (Tg) rat, which expresses 7 of the 9 HIV-1 genes constitutively throughout development, was used to model the early development of chronic neurological impairment in PHIV. Male and female Fischer HIV-1 Tg and F344 N control rats, sampled from 35 litters, were repeatedly assessed during early development using multiple experimental paradigms, including somatic growth, locomotor activity, cross-modal prepulse inhibition (PPI) and gap-prepulse inhibition (gap-PPI). Later eye opening was observed in HIV-1 Tg animals relative to controls. HIV-1 Tg animals exhibited a shift in the development of locomotor activity implicating alterations in the maturation of the forebrain cholinergic inhibitory system. Alterations in the development of PPI and perceptual sharpening were observed in both auditory and visual PPI as indexed by a relative insensitivity to the dimension of time (msec for ISI; days of age for perceptual sharpening) as a function of the HIV-1 transgene. Presence of the HIV-1 transgene was diagnosed with 97.1 % accuracy using auditory and visual PPI measurements from PD 17 and 21. Early selective developmental alterations observed in the HIV-1 Tg rats provide an opportunity for the development of a point-of-care screening tool, which would permit the early diagnosis of PHIV and improve the long-term outcome for children perinatally infected with HIV-1.
Selective developmental alterations in The HIV-1 transgenic rat: Opportunities for diagnosis of pediatric HIV-1.