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Neuron. 1991 Jul;7(1):111-8.

Synergistic effects of HIV coat protein and NMDA receptor-mediated neurotoxicity.

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Department of Neurology Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.


Exposure of rat retinal cultures to HIV-1 coat protein gp120 for several minutes increases [Ca2+]i in approximately half of the ganglion cells; this effect is associated with delayed-onset neuronal injury, similar to that previously reported in NMDA receptor-mediated neurotoxicity. Here we show that NMDA antagonists can prevent both the rise in [Ca2+]i and subsequent neuronal damage engendered by 20 pM gp120. However, whole-cell patch-clamp recordings demonstrate that gp120 does not directly evoke an NMDA-like response or enhance glutamate/NMDA-activated currents. Moreover, complete protection from gp120-induced [Ca2+]i increases and neurotoxicity is afforded by incubation with glutamate-pyruvate transaminase, which breaks down endogenous glutamate as verified by HPLC. Since, under standard conditions in these cultures, neither glutamate nor a low picomolar concentration of gp120 is deleterious on its own, our results suggest that their neurotoxicity is synergistic.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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