Methamphetamine augment HIV-1 Tat mediated memory deficits by altering the expression of synaptic proteins and neurotrophic factors

Publication date: July 2018
Source:Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, Volume 71
Author(s): Anantha Ram Nookala, Daniel C. Schwartz, Nitish S. Chaudhari, Alexy Glazyrin, Edward B. Stephens, Nancy E.J. Berman, Anil Kumar
Methamphetamine (METH) abuse is common among individuals infected with HIV-1 and has been shown to affect HIV replication and pathogenesis. These HIV-1 infected individuals also exhibit greater neuronal injury and higher cognitive decline. HIV-1 proteins, specifically gp120 and HIV-1 Tat, have been earlier shown to affect neurocognition. HIV-1 Tat, a viral protein released early during HIV-1 replication, contributes to HIV-associated neurotoxicity through various mechanisms including production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, reactive oxygen species and dysregulation of neuroplasticity. However, the combined effect of METH and HIV-1 Tat on neurocognition and its potential effect on neuroplasticity mechanisms remains largely unknown. Therefore, the present study was undertaken to investigate the combined effect of METH and HIV-1 Tat on behavior and on the expression of neuroplasticity markers by utilizing Doxycycline (DOX)-inducible HIV-1 Tat (1-86) transgenic mice. Expression of Tat in various brain regions of these mice was confirmed by RT-PCR. The mice were administered with an escalating dose of METH (0.1 mg/kg to 6 mg/kg, i.p) over a 7-day period, followed by 6 mg/kg, i.p METH twice a day for four weeks. After three weeks of METH administration, Y maze and Morris water maze assays were performed to determine the effect of Tat and METH on working and spatial memory, respectively. Compared with controls, working memory was significantly decreased in Tat mice that were administered METH. Moreover, significant deficits in spatial memory were also observed in Tat-Tg mice that were administered METH. A significant reduction in the protein expressions of synapsin 1, synaptophysin, Arg3.1, PSD-95, and BDNF in different brain regions were also observed. Expression levels of Calmodulin kinase II (CaMKII), a marker of synaptodendritic integrity, were also significantly decreased in HIV-1 Tat mice that were treated with METH. Together, this data suggests that METH enhances HIV-1 Tat-induced memory deficits by reducing the expression of pre- and postsynaptic proteins and neuroplasticity markers, thus providing novel insights into the molecular mechanisms behind neurocognitive impairments in HIV-infected amphetamine users.