Methamphetamine potentiates HIV-1 Tat protein-mediated activation of redox-sensitive pathways in discrete regions of the brain

Govinder Flora, Yong Woo Lee, Avindra Nath, Bernhard Hennig, William Maragos, Michal Toborek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


Tat is a major regulatory protein encoded by human immunodeficiency viral genome, which has been implicated in the pathogenesis of HIV infection, including neurologic complications associated with this disease. In addition, drug abuse has been identified as a major risk factor of HIV infection. We hypothesize that abusive drugs, such as methamphetamine (METH), can directly influence specific molecular processes that can further contribute to toxic effects of Tat. To elucidate the molecular signaling pathways of Tat- and/or METH-induced toxicity, we investigated the effects of a single injection of Tat (25 μg/μl into the right hippocampus) and/or METH (10 mg/kg, intraperitoneally) on the generation of cellular oxidative stress, DNA-binding activity of specific redox-responsive transcription factors, and expression of inflammatory genes. Administration of Tat or METH resulted in stimulation of cellular oxidative stress and activation of redox-regulated transcription factors in the cortical, striatal, and hippocampal regions of the mouse brain. In addition, DNA-binding activities of NF-κB, AP-1, and CREB in the frontal cortex and hippocampus were more pronounced in mice injected with Tat plus METH compared to the effects of Tat or METH alone. Intercellular adhesion molecule-1 gene expression also was upregulated in a synergistic manner in cortical, striatal, and hippocampal regions in mice which received injections of Tat combined with METH compared to the effects of these agents alone. Moreover, synergistic effects of Tat plus METH on the tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-1β mRNA levels were observed in the striatal region. These results indicate that Tat and METH can cross-amplify their cellular effects, leading to alterations of redox-regulated inflammatory pathways in the brain. Such synergistic proinflammatory stimulation may have significant implications in HIV-infected patients who abuse drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-70
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by NIH (NS39254 and MH63022).


  • Adhesion molecule
  • Brain regions
  • Cytokines
  • HIV-1
  • Methamphetamine
  • Oxidative stress
  • Tat
  • Transcription factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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