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PLoS One. 2015 Aug 13;10(8):e0135633. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0135633. eCollection 2015.

Multiple Protein Kinases via Activation of Transcription Factors NF-κB, AP-1 and C/EBP-δ Regulate the IL-6/IL-8 Production by HIV-1 Vpr in Astrocytes.

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Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology, School of Pharmacy, University of Missouri, Kansas City, Missouri, United States of America.


Neurocognitive impairments affect a substantial population of HIV-1 infected individuals despite the success of anti-retroviral therapy in controlling viral replication. Astrocytes are emerging as a crucial cell type that might be playing a very important role in the persistence of neuroinflammation seen in patients suffering from HIV-1 associated neurocognitive disorders. HIV-1 viral proteins including Vpr exert neurotoxicity through direct and indirect mechanisms. Induction of IL-8 in microglial cells has been shown as one of the indirect mechanism through which Vpr reduces neuronal survival. We show that HIV-1 Vpr induces IL-6 and IL-8 in astrocytes in a time-dependent manner. Additional experiments utilizing chemical inhibitors and siRNA revealed that HIV-1 Vpr activates transcription factors NF-κB, AP-1 and C/EBP-δ via upstream protein kinases PI3K/Akt, p38-MAPK and Jnk-MAPK leading to the induction of IL-6 and IL-8 in astrocytes. We demonstrate that one of the mechanism for neuroinflammation seen in HIV-1 infected individuals involves induction of IL-6 and IL-8 by Vpr in astrocytes. Understanding the molecular pathways involved in the HIV-1 neuroinflammation would be helpful in the design of adjunct therapy to ameliorate some of the symptoms associated with HIV-1 neuropathogenesis.

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