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J Neurosci. 2015 Apr 1;35(13):5271-83. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0650-14.2015.

Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 modulates neuroinflammation and neurotoxicity in models of human immunodeficiency virus 1-associated neurocognitive disorders.

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Center for Neural Development and Disease and
Center for Neural Development and Disease and.
Graduate Program in Medical Illustration, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York 14623.
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York 14642, and.


Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) is the single most common genetic cause of both familial and sporadic Parkinson's disease (PD), both of which share pathogenetic and neurologic similarities with human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1)-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND). Pathologic LRRK2 activity may also contribute to neuroinflammation, because microglia lacking LRRK2 exposed to proinflammatory stimuli have attenuated responses. Because microglial activation is a hallmark of HIV-1 neuropathology, we have investigated the role of LRRK2 activation using in vitro and in vivo models of HAND. We hypothesize that LRRK2 is a key modulator of microglial inflammatory responses, which play a pathogenic role in both HAND and PD, and that these responses may cause or exacerbate neuronal damage in these diseases. The HIV-1 Tat protein is a potent neurotoxin produced during HAND that induces activation of primary microglia in culture and long-lasting neuroinflammation and neurotoxicity when injected into the CNS of mice. We found that LRRK2 inhibition attenuates Tat-induced pS935-LRRK2 expression, proinflammatory cytokine and chemokine expression, and phosphorylated p38 and Jun N-terminal kinase signaling in primary microglia. In our murine model, cortical Tat injection in LRRK2 knock-out (KO) mice results in significantly diminished neuronal damage, as assessed by microtubule-associated protein 2 (MAP2), class III β-tubulin TUJ1, synapsin-1, VGluT, and cleaved caspase-3 immunostaining. Furthermore, Tat-injected LRRK2 KO animals have decreased infiltration of peripheral neutrophils, and the morphology of microglia from these mice were similar to that of vehicle-injected controls. We conclude that pathologic activation of LRRK2 regulates a significant component of the neuroinflammation associated with HAND.


HIV-1; LRRK2; Parkinson's disease; microglia; neuroinflammation; neurotoxicity

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