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PLoS One. 2011;6(9):e24876. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0024876. Epub 2011 Sep 12.

Human immunodeficiency virus envelope protein Gp120 induces proliferation but not apoptosis in osteoblasts at physiologic concentrations.

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Division of Infectious Disease, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, United States of America.


Patients with HIV infection have decreased numbers of osteoblasts, decreased bone mineral density and increased risk of fracture compared to uninfected patients; however, the molecular mechanisms behind these associations remain unclear. We questioned whether Gp120, a component of the envelope protein of HIV capable of inducing apoptosis in many cell types, is able to induce cell death in bone-forming osteoblasts. We show that treatment of immortalized osteoblast-like cells and primary human osteoblasts with exogenous Gp120 in vitro at physiologic concentrations does not result in apoptosis. Instead, in the osteoblast-like U2OS cell line, cells expressing CXCR4, a receptor for Gp120, had increased proliferation when treated with Gp120 compared to control (P<0.05), which was inhibited by pretreatment with a CXCR4 inhibitor and a G-protein inhibitor. This suggests that Gp120 is not an inducer of apoptosis in human osteoblasts and likely does not directly contribute to osteoporosis in infected patients by this mechanism.

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