Increased vulnerability of ApoE4 neurons to HIV proteins and opiates: Protection by diosgenin and l-deprenyl

Jadwiga Turchan-Cholewo, Yiling Liu, Suzanne Gartner, Rollie Reid, Chunfa Jie, Xuejun Peng, Kuey Chu C. Chen, Ashok Chauhan, Norman Haughey, Roy Cutler, Mark P. Mattson, Carlos Pardo, Katherine Conant, Ned Sacktor, Justin C. McArthur, Kurt F. Hauser, Chandra Gairola, Avindra Nath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection continues to rise in drug-abusing populations and causes a dementing illness in a subset of individuals. Factors contributing to the development of dementia in this population remain unknown. We found that HIV-infected individuals with the E4 allele of Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) or history of intravenous drug abuse had increased oxidative stress in the CNS. In vitro studies showed that HIV proteins, gp120 and Tat, Tat + morphine but not tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), caused increased neurotoxicity in human neuronal cultures with ApoE4 allele. Microarray analysis showed a differential alteration of transcripts involved in energy metabolism in cultures of ApoE3 and 4 neurons upon treatment with Tat + morphine. This was confirmed using assays of mitochondrial function and exposure of the neurons to Tat + morphine. Using this in vitro model, we screened a number of novel antioxidants and found that only l-deprenyl and diosgenin protected against the neurotoxicity of Tat + morphine. Furthermore, Tat-induced oxidative stress impaired morphine metabolism which could also be prevented by diosgenin. In conclusion, opiate abusers with HIV infection and the ApoE4 allele may be at increased risk of developing dementia. l-deprenyl and a plant estrogen, diosgenin, may have therapeutic potential in this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-119
Number of pages11
JournalNeurobiology of Disease
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2006


  • ApoE4
  • Drug abuse
  • Genetics
  • HIV
  • Neuroprotection
  • Opiates
  • Oxidative stress
  • Tat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology


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