Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 infection is often complicated with neurologic disorders, but the pathogenesis of HIV-1 encephalopathy is incompletely understood. Tat (HIV-1 transactivator protein) is released from HIV-1-infected cells and has been detected in the sera and cerebrospinal fluid of HIV-1-infected patients. Tat, along with increased inflammatory cytokines such as interferon-gamma (IFN-γ), have been implicated in the pathogenesis of HIV-1-associated blood-brain barrier dysfunction. The present study examined the effects of Tat and IFN-γ on human brain microvascular endothelial cells (HB-MECs), which constitute the blood-brain barrier. Tat produced cytotoxicity of HBMECs, but required IFN-γ. IFN-γ treatment of HBMECs up-regulates vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 (VEGFR2/KDR), which is known to be the receptor for Tat. Tat activated KDR in the presence of IFN-γ, and Tat-mediated cytopathic changes involve its interaction with KDR and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K). Further understanding and characterization of Tat-HBMEC interactions should help us understand HIV-1 neuropathogenesis and develop strategies to prevent HIV-1 encephalopathy.
- Human brain microvascular endothelial cells
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience