AIDS research and human retroviruses

HIV infection accelerates gastrointestinal tumor outgrowth in NSG-HuPBL mice.

PMID 24593860


HIV infection is a risk factor for the tumorigenesis including non-AIDS-defining cancers such as those of the gastrointestinal tract. However, the mechanisms underlying such cancer outgrowth are still unknown. Furthermore, combined HIV/cancer studies are difficult to evaluate using primate models or in the clinical patient setting. To understand the mechanisms of tumor outgrowth in the context of HIV infection, we adopted a humanized mouse model permissive to infection and cancer as well as an in vivo humanized mouse challenge with colon cancer in the context of HIV infection. Immunodeficient NOD SCID IL-2R(-/-) mice were immunologically reconstituted by adoptive transfer of 10(7) HIV-negative donor peripheral blood leukocytes and challenged with 10(6) HCT116 human colon cancer cells. A group of mice was treated with antiretroviral therapy. Tumor microenvironment and epithelial tissues in the context of HIV infection were analyzed using immunohistochemistry. We demonstrate that HIV-infected humanized mice develop significantly larger tumors than uninfected mice (p<0.05). Epithelial cell proliferation in HIV-infected mice is significantly enhanced in comparison to proliferation in uninfected mice (p<0.01). Moreover, the activation of β-catenin, an important step in intestinal epithelial cell proliferation and tumorigenesis, is elevated in the tumors of HIV-infected mice (p<0.0001). Importantly, antiretroviral therapy reverses these pathological processes independently of CD4(+) T cell return. These findings model the ability of HIV infection to result in tumor outgrowth that is evident in HIV-positive patients and lend insight into previously unrecognized mechanisms that may underlie this pathology.