IL-16 is a natural ligand for the CD4 molecule and is known for its chemotactic and anti-HIV-1 activities. We determined IL-16 expression in human brain tissue with HIV-1 encephalitis by specific immunocytochemistry and showed that infiltrating lymphocytes and activated microglia express IL-16. IL-16 immunoreactivity was particularly pronounced in microglial nodules. In vitro, human foetal microglia and not astrocytes produce IL-16, and HIV-1 infection up-regulates microglial IL-16 release in a Nef-dependent manner. These results support the notion that, in the brain, IL-16 is a macrophage-lineage specific modulator of the inflammatory response and HIV-1 expression. Recruitment of IL-16+ T cells and microglia/macrophages may represent an innate response to HIV-1 infection in the central nervous system that counterbalances viral stimulatory factors.
Copyright 2003 Blackwell Publishing Ltd