Molecular neurobiology 2017 11 11() doi 10.1007/s12035-017-0816-8
HIV-1-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) is associated with blood-brain-barrier (BBB) inflammation, and inflammation involves toll-like receptors (TLRs) signaling. It is not known whether primary human brain microvascular endothelial cells (HBMEC), the major BBB component, express TLRs or whether TLRs are involved in BBB dysfunction and HAND. We demonstrate that HBMEC express TLR3, 4, 5, 7, 9, and 10, and TLR3 was the most abundant. HIV-1 and TLR3 activation increased endothelial TLR3 transcription and expression. HIV-1-positive human subjects showed significantly higher TLR3 expression in brain tissues and blood vessels, with higher TLR3 levels in subjects with HAND. HIV-1 and TLR3 activation increased endothelial IL6 expression by 6-to-127-fold (P < 0.001), activated c-jun(serine-63) and SAPK/JNK(Thr183/Tyr185). HIV-1 upregulated IL6 through interleukin-1 receptor-associated-kinase (IRAK)-1/4/TAK1/JNK pathways, via ATP-dependent JNK activation. TLR3 activation upregulated IL6 through TAK1/JNK pathways, via ATP-dependent or -independent JNK activation. HIV-1 and TLR3 activation also upregulated transcription factors associated with IL6 and TAK1/JNK pathways (Jun, CEBPA, STAT1). Blocking TLR3 activation prevented HIV-1- and TLR3 ligands-induced upregulation of these transcription factors, prevented IL6 transcription and expression, c-jun and JNK activation. HIV-1 and TLR3 ligands significantly increased monocytes adhesion and migration through the BBB, and decreased endothelial claudin-5 expression. Blocking TLR3 and JNK activation prevented HIV-1- and TLR3 ligands-induced claudin-5 downregulation, monocytes adhesion and transendothelial migration. These data suggest that viral immune recognition via endothelial TLR3 is involved in endothelial inflammation and BBB dysfunction in HIV/AIDS and HAND. Our data provides novel insights into the molecular basis of these HIV-1- and TLR3-mediated effects.