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J Neurovirol. 2008 Oct;14(5):376-88. doi: 10.1080/13550280802199898. Epub 2008 Nov 12.

Mechanisms of minocycline-induced suppression of simian immunodeficiency virus encephalitis: inhibition of apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1.

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Department of Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection of the central nervous system (CNS) can lead to cognitive dysfunction, even in individuals treated with highly active antiretroviral therapy. Using an established simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)/macaque model of HIV CNS disease, we previously reported that infection shifts the balance of activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathways in the brain, resulting in increased activation of the neurodegenerative MAPKs p38 and JNK. Minocycline treatment of SIV-infected macaques reduced the incidence and severity of SIV encephalitis in this model, and suppressed the activation of p38 in the brain. The purpose of this study was to further examine the effects of minocycline on neurodegenerative MAPK signaling. We first demonstrated that minocycline also decreases JNK activation in the brain and levels of the inflammatory mediator nitric oxide (NO). We next used NO to activate these MAPK pathways in vitro, and demonstrated that minocycline suppresses p38 and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) activation by reducing intracellular levels, and hence, activation of apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 (ASK1), a MAPK kinase capable of selectively activating both pathways. We then demonstrated that ASK1 activation in the brain during SIV infection is suppressed by minocycline. By suppressing p38 and JNK activation pathways, which are important for the production of and responses to inflammatory mediators, minocycline may interrupt the vicious cycle of inflammation that both results from, and promotes, virus replication in SIV and HIV CNS disease.

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