Pathology Publications


Antioxidant Protection from HIV-1 gp120-induced Neuroglial Toxicity

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Journal of Neuroinflammation






Background: The pathogenesis of HIV-1 glycoprotein 120 (gp120) associated neuroglial toxicity remains unresolved, but oxidative injury has been widely implicated as a contributing factor. In previous studies, exposure of primary human central nervous system tissue cultures to gp120 led to a simplification of neuronal dendritic elements as well as astrocytic hypertrophy and hyperplasia; neuropathological features of HIV-1-associated dementia. Gp120 and proinflammatory cytokines upregulate inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), an important source of nitric oxide (NO) and nitrosative stress. Because ascorbate scavenges reactive nitrogen and oxygen species, we studied the effect of ascorbate supplementation on iNOS expression as well as the neuronal and glial structural changes associated with gp120 exposure.

Methods: Human CNS cultures were derived from 16-18 week gestation post-mortem fetal brain. Cultures were incubated with 400 microM ascorbate-2-O-phosphate (Asc-p) or vehicle for 18 hours then exposed to 1 nM gp120 for 24 hours. The expression of iNOS and neuronal (MAP2) and astrocytic (GFAP) structural proteins was examined by immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence using confocal scanning laser microscopy (CSLM).

Results: Following gp120 exposure iNOS was markedly upregulated from undetectable levels at baseline. Double label CSLM studies revealed astrocytes to be the prime source of iNOS with rare neurons expressing iNOS. This upregulation was attenuated by the preincubation with Asc-p, which raised the intracellular concentration of ascorbate. Astrocytic hypertrophy and neuronal injury caused by gp120 were also prevented by preincubation with ascorbate.

Conclusions: Ascorbate supplementation prevents the deleterious upregulation of iNOS and associated neuronal and astrocytic protein expression and structural changes caused by gp120 in human brain cell cultures.


Published in: Journal of Neuroinflammation, 2004, 1:8. doi: 10.1186/1742-2094-1-8

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