Journal of NeuroVirology

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 242–251 | Cite as

Gp120-mediated cytotoxicity of human brain microvascular endothelial cells is dependent on p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase activation

  • Naveed Ahmed Khan
  • Francescopaolo Di Cello
  • Monique Stins
  • Kwang Sik Kim


Breakdown of the blood-brain barrier has been shown to contribute to neurological disorders that are prevalent in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-infected individuals, but the mechanisms involved in HIV-1-associated blood-brain barrier dysfunction remain incompletely understood. Using human brain microvascular endothelial cells (HBMECs) that constitute the blood-brain barrier, the authors determined the cytotoxic effects of gp120 on HBMECs. The authors showed that gp120 induced cytotoxicity of HBMECs derived from children, which required cotreatment with interferon (IFN)-γ. IFN-γ treatment exhibited up-regulation of the chemokine receptors CCR3 and CCR5 in children’s HBMECs. In contrast, HBMECs isolated from adults were not responsive to gp120-mediated cytotoxicity. Peptides of gp120 representing binding regions for CD4 and chemokine receptors as well as CD4 antibody inhibited gp120-mediated cytotoxicity of HBMECs. RANTES, as expected, inhibited M-tropic gp120-mediated HBMEC cytotoxicity, whereas stromal cell-derived factor (SDF)-1α failed to inhibit T-tropic gp120-mediated cytotoxicity. Of interest, gp120 peptides representing non-CD4/non-chemokine receptor binding regions inhibited gp120-mediated HBMEC cytotoxicity. In addition, the authors showed that gp120-mediated HBMEC cytotoxicity involved p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway. Taken together, these findings showed that gp120, in the presence of IFN-γ, can cause dysfunction of the blood-brain barrier endothelium via MAPK pathways involving several gp120-HBMEC interactions.


blood-brain barrier cytotoxicity Gp120 human brain microvascular endothelial cells MAPK 


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Copyright information

© Journal of NeuroVirology, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Naveed Ahmed Khan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Francescopaolo Di Cello
    • 1
  • Monique Stins
    • 1
  • Kwang Sik Kim
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Pediatric Infectious DiseasesJohns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Birkbeck CollegeUniversity of LondonLondonUK

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