Front Microbiol. 2023 Aug 10;14:1175679. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2023.1175679. eCollection 2023.
INTRODUCTION: Infection with human T cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is endemic in Brazil and is linked with pro-inflammatory conditions including HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP), a chronic neuroinflammatory incapacitating disease that culminates in loss of motor functions. The mechanisms underlying the onset and progression of HAM/TSP are incompletely understood. Previous studies have demonstrated that inflammation and infectious agents can affect the expression of cellular prion protein (PrPC) in immune cells.
METHODS: Here, we investigated whether HTLV-1 infection affected PrPC content in cell lines and primary CD4+cells in vitro using flow cytometry and western blot assays.
RESULTS: We found that HTLV-1 infection decreased the expression levels of PrPC and HTLV-1 Orf I encoded p12, an endoplasmic reticulum resident protein also known to affect post-transcriptionally cellular proteins such as MHC-class I and the IL-2 receptor. In addition, we observed a reduced percentage of CD4+ T cells from infected individuals expressing PrPC, which was reflected by IFN type II but not IL-17 expression.
DISCUSSION: These results suggested that PrPC downregulation, linked to both HTLV-1 p12 and IFN-γ expression in CD4+ cells, may play a role in the neuropathogenesis of HTLV-1 infection.