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Inflammasome activation underlies central nervous system deterioration in HIV-associated tuberculosis

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posted on 20.08.2020 by Suzaan Marais, Rachel PJ Lai, Katalin A Wilkinson, Graeme Meintjes, Anne O'Garra, Robert J Wilkinson
Tuberculous meningitis (TBM) is a frequent cause of meningitis in individuals with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, resulting in death in approximately 40% of affected patients. A severe complication of antiretroviral therapy (ART) in these patients is neurological tuberculosis-immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS), but its underlying cause remains poorly understood. To investigate the pathogenesis of TBM-IRIS, we performed longitudinal whole-blood microarray analysis of HIV-infected patients with TBM and reflected the findings at the protein level. Patients in whom TBM-IRIS eventually developed had significantly more abundant neutrophil-associated transcripts, from before development of TBM-IRIS through IRIS symptom onset. After ART initiation, a significantly higher abundance of transcripts associated with canonical and noncanonical inflammasomes was detected in patients with TBM-IRIS than in non-IRIS controls. Whole-blood transcriptome findings complement protein measurement from the site of disease, which together suggest a dominant role for the innate immune system in the pathogenesis of TBM-IRIS.

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