Involvement of cytokines in human immunodeficiency virus-1 protein Tat and methamphetamine interactions in the striatum

Shaji Theodore, Wayne A. Cass, William F. Maragos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) infection of the brain causes elevation in pro-inflammatory cytokines and inflammatory changes in the striatum. HIV-1-infected individuals who also abuse drugs including the psychostimulant methamphetamine (MA) develop more severe encephalitis and neuronal damage compared to HIV-1-infected patients who do not abuse drugs. In previous studies, we demonstrated that the HIV-1 protein Tat and MA interacted to cause enhanced loss of dopamine in the rat striatum via the destruction of dopaminergic terminals. Since both Tat and MA activate glia and induce cytokine production, we investigated the role of cytokines in the synergistic neurotoxicity induced by Tat and MA using cytokine arrays. Significant increases in monocyte chemotactic protein (MCP-1), interleukin-1 alpha (IL-1α) and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP-1) levels were noted 4 h following Tat + MA treatment compared to saline, Tat or MA. MCP-1 and TIMP-1 levels remained elevated 16 h after Tat + MA compared to saline or MA but were not different from the Tat-treated group at this time point. Weak, but significant elevations in cytokine-induced neutrophil chemoattractant-3 (CINC-3), ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) and macrophage inflammatory protein-3 alpha (MIP-3α) were also noted with Tat + MA. The interaction of Tat and MA was prevented in mice genetically deficient in MCP-1 with a consequent attenuation of Tat + MA neurotoxicity. Our findings suggest that HIV-1 infection with concurrent drug abuse might profoundly increase chemokine levels in the striatum resulting in enhanced damage to the dopaminergic system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)490-498
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grants DA13144 to WFM and AG17963 to WAC. The authors wish to thank Dr. Avindra Nath (Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD) for providing recombinant Tat protein and Laura Peters for technical assistance.


  • AIDS
  • Basal ganglia
  • Chemokines
  • Dopamine
  • Drug abuse
  • GFAP

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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