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FASEB J. 2002 Apr;16(6):616-8.

HIV enhances substance P expression in human immune cells.

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The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Department of Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


Substance P (SP), a potent modulator of neuroimmunoregulation, is expressed in human immune cells. We observed elevated plasma SP levels in HIV-infected men compared with uninfected subjects. In the present study, we investigated the possible cellular source of the increased SP level caused by HIV infection. Using real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, we demonstrated that monocyte-derived macrophages (MDM) and lymphocytes from both placental cord blood and adult peripheral blood expressed SP mRNA, which was significantly increased by HIV infection. HIV-induced SP expression was positively related to virus replication in the infected MDM. Purified recombinant HIV envelope glycoprotein 120 (gp120) derived from both the macrophage-tropic strain (MN) and the T lymphocyte-tropic strain (IIIB), when added to MDM cultures, enhanced SP mRNA expression. The gp120-induced SP expression was abrogated by pretreating the cells with soluble CD4. Furthermore, the activation of HIV in the latently infected promonocytic cell line (U1) and T-cell line (ACH-2) up-regulated SP mRNA expression. These data support the hypothesis that interaction of HIV and SP may have significant in vivo relevance to the immunopathogenesis of HIV infection and AIDS.

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