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Microvasc Res. 2009 Mar;77(2):212-9. doi: 10.1016/j.mvr.2008.11.003. Epub 2008 Nov 28.

HIV-1 gp120 induces cytokine expression, leukocyte adhesion, and transmigration across the blood-brain barrier: modulatory effects of STAT1 signaling.

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  • 1University of Nebraska Medical Center, Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Neuroscience, Center for Neurovirology and Neurodegenerative Disorders, 985215 Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska 68198-5215, USA.


How neuroinflammatory activities affect signaling pathways leading to blood-brain barrier (BBB) injury during HIV/AIDS are currently unknown. Our previous work demonstrated that HIV-1 exposure activates pro-inflammatory genes in human brain microvascular endothelial cells (HBMEC) and showed that these genes are linked to the janus kinase (JAK)/signal transducers and activators of transcription (STAT) pathway. Here, we report that HIV-1 gp120 protein activated STAT1 and induced interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-8 secretion in HBMEC. IL-6, IL-8, and gp120 increased monocyte adhesion and migration across in vitro BBB models. The STAT1 inhibitor, fludarabine, prevented gp120-induced IL-6 and IL-8 secretion. Inhibitors of STAT1, mitogen activated protein kinase kinase (MEK) (PD98059), and phosphatidyl inositol 3 kinase (PI3K) (LY294002), blocked gp120-induced STAT1 activation and significantly diminished IL-8-, IL-6-, and gp120-induced monocyte adhesion and migration across in vitro BBB models. These data support the notion that STAT1 plays an important role in gp120-induced inflammation and BBB dysfunction associated with viral infection. Results also suggest crosstalk between STAT1, MEK, and PI3K pathways in gp120-induced BBB dysfunction. Inhibition of STAT1 activation could provide a unique therapeutic strategy to decrease neuroinflammation and BBB dysfunction in HIV/AIDS.

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