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Virol Sin. 2017 Jun;32(3):216-225. doi: 10.1007/s12250-017-3997-4. Epub 2017 Jun 23.

Human endogenous retrovirus W env increases nitric oxide production and enhances the migration ability of microglia by regulating the expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase.

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Department of Medical Microbiology, School of Medicine, Wuhan University, Wuhan, 430071, China.
Department of Integrated Medicine, Dongfeng Hospital, Hubei University of Medicine, Wuhan, 442000, China.
Department of Neurology Medicine, Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University, Wuhan, 430060, China.
The State Key Laboratory of Virology, College of Life Sciences, Wuhan University, Wuhan, 430072, China.
Department of Medical Microbiology, School of Medicine, Wuhan University, Wuhan, 430071, China.
Hubei Province Key Laboratory of Allergy and Immunology, Wuhan, 430071, China.


Human endogenous retrovirus W env (HERV-W env) plays a critical role in many neuropsychological diseases such as schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis (MS). These diseases are accompanied by immunological reactions in the central nervous system (CNS). Microglia are important immunocytes in brain inflammation that can produce a gasotransmitter-nitric oxide (NO). NO not only plays a role in the function of neuronal cells but also participates in the pathogenesis of various neuropsychological diseases. In this study, we reported increased NO production in CHME-5 microglia cells after they were transfected with HERV-W env. Moreover, HERV-W env increased the expression and function of human inducible nitric oxide synthase (hiNOS) and enhanced the promoter activity of hiNOS. Microglial migration was also enhanced. These data revealed that HERV-W env might contribute to increase NO production and microglial migration ability in neuropsychological disorders by regulating the expression of inducible NOS. Results from this study might lead to the identification of novel targets for the treatment of neuropsychological diseases, including neuroinflammatory diseases, stroke, and neurodegenerative diseases.


env; human endogenous retrovirus W family (HERV-W); inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS); microglia; neuropsychological disorders; nitric oxide (NO)

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