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Biochem Pharmacol. 1998 Aug 1;56(3):397-404.

Kappa-opioid potentiation of tumor necrosis factor-alpha-induced anti-HIV-1 activity in acutely infected human brain cell cultures.

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  • 1Institute for Brain and Immune Disorders, Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation and the University of Minnesota Medical School, 55404, USA.


Opioids have been postulated to play an immunomodulatory role in the pathogenesis of HIV-1. Synthetic kappa-opioid receptor (KOR) ligands have been found to inhibit HIV-1 expression in acutely infected microglial cell cultures. We recently found that interleukin(IL)-1beta and tumor necrosis factor(TNF)-alpha have antiviral effects in acutely infected mixed glial/neuronal cell cultures. In the present study, we investigated whether selective KOR ligands would exert antiviral effects in acutely infected brain cell cultures. While the KOR ligand trans-3,4-dichloro-N-methyl-N[2-(1-pyrolidinyl)cyclohexyl]benze neaceamide methanesulfonate (U50,488) alone had little anti-HIV-1 activity, this opioid potentiated in a concentration-dependent manner the antiviral activity of TNF-alpha, but not of IL-1beta. The potentiating effect of U50,488 was detected after a 6-hr pretreatment and peaked at 24 hr. The KOR antagonist nor-binaltorphimine completely blocked the potentiating effect of U50,488, suggesting the involvement of a KOR-mediated mechanism. Antibodies to TNF-alpha completely blocked the potentiating effect of U50,488, suggesting a critical role for TNF-alpha. Antibodies to IL-1beta blocked the potentiating effect of U50,488, suggesting that IL-1beta was released following U50,488 treatment, which might contribute to the potentiating effect of U50,488. These in vitro findings support the notion that synthetic kappa-opioids could be considered as potential adjunctive therapeutic agents in HIV-1-related brain disease.

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