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Cell Death Differ. 2007 Feb;14(2):296-305. Epub 2006 Jul 14.

HIV-1 coreceptors CCR5 and CXCR4 both mediate neuronal cell death but CCR5 paradoxically can also contribute to protection.

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Center for Neuroscience and Aging, Burnham Institute for Medical Research, 10901 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


The chemokine receptors CCR5 and CXCR4 serve, in addition to CD4, as coreceptors for human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1), and infection with HIV-1 can cause dementia. In brain-derived cells, HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein gp120 initiates a signaling cascade that involves p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase and leads to neuronal cell death. Using mixed neuronal/glial cultures from rats and mice genetically deficient in one or both HIV coreceptors, we show here that CCR5, CXCR4 or both can mediate HIV/gp120 neurotoxicity depending on the viral strain. Paradoxically, we also found evidence for a CCR5-mediated neuroprotective pathway. We identify protein kinase Akt/PKB as an essential component of this pathway, which can be triggered by the CCR5 agonists macrophage inflammatory protein-1beta and regulated-and-normal-T-cell-expressed-and-secreted. Moreover, these CCR5 ligands prevent neuronal cell death induced by stromal cell-derived factor-1, a CXCR4 agonist. Both neurons and glia coexpress CXCR4 and CCR5. Ca2+ imaging experiments demonstrate that engagement of CCR5 prevents CXCR4-triggered increases in intracellular free Ca2+. This finding suggests that CCR5 ligands can protect neurons at least, in part, by modulating CXCR4-mediated toxicity through heterologous desensitization.

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