ABSTRACT: The human T-lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I) causes a chronic inflammatory disorder of the central nervous system termed HTLV-I-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP). HTLV-I encodes a protein known to activate several host-signaling pathways involved in inflammation, such as the nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB). The contribution of the NF-κB pathway to the pathogenesis of HAM/TSP, however, has not been fully defined. We show evidence of canonical NF-κB activation in short-term cultures of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from subjects with HAM/TSP. NF-κB activation was closely linked to HTLV-I viral protein expression. The NF-κB activation in HAM/TSP PBMCs was reversed by a novel small-molecule inhibitor that demonstrates potent and selective NF-κB antagonist activity. Inhibition of NF-κB activation led to a reduction in the expression of lymphocyte activation markers and resulted in reduced cytokine signaling in HAM/TSP PBMCs. Furthermore, NF-κB inhibition led to a reduction in spontaneous lymphoproliferation, a key ex vivo correlate of the immune activation associated with HAM/TSP. These results indicate that NF-κB activation plays a critical upstream role in the immune activation of HAM/TSP, and identify the NF-κB pathway as a potential target for immunomodulation in HAM/TSP.
Blood 01/2011; 117(12):3363-9. · 9.90 Impact Factor