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1.  HIV-1 Latency and Eradication: Past, Present and Future 
Current HIV research  2016;14(5):431-441.
It is well established that antiretroviral therapy (ART), while highly effective in controlling HIV replication, cannot eliminate virus from the body. Therefore, the majority of HIV-1-infected individuals remain at risk for developing AIDS due to persistence of infected reservoir cells serving as a source of virus re-emergence. Several reservoirs containing replication competent HIV-1 have been identified, most notably CD4+ T cells. Cells of the myeloid lineage, which are the first line of defense against pathogens and participate in HIV dissemination into sanctuary organs, also serve as cellular reservoirs of HIV-1. In latently infected resting CD4+ T cells, the integrated copies of proviral DNA remain in a dormant state, yet possess the ability to produce replication competent virus after cellular activation. Studies have demonstrated that modification of chromatin structure plays a role in establishing persistence, in part suggesting that latency is, controlled epigenetically. Current efforts to eradicate HIV-1 from this cell population focus primarily on a “shock and kill” approach through cellular reactivation to trigger elimination of virus producing cells by cytolysis or host immune responses. However, studies revealed several limitations to this approach that require more investigation to assess its clinical application. Recent advances in gene editing technology prompted use of this approach for inactivating integrated proviral DNA in the genome of latently infected cells. This technology, which requires a detailed understanding of the viral genetics and robust delivery, may serve as a powerful strategy to eliminate the latent reservoir in the host leading to a sterile cure of AIDS.
PMCID: PMC5157928  PMID: 27009094
2.  Mitochondrial Haplogroup Influences Motor Function in Long-Term HIV-1-Infected Individuals 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(10):e0163772.
Evolutionary divergence of the mitochondrial genome has given rise to distinct haplogroups. These haplogroups have arisen in specific geographical locations and are responsible for subtle functional changes in the mitochondria that may provide an evolutionary advantage in a given environment. Based on these functional differences, haplogroups could define disease susceptibility in chronic settings. In this study, we undertook a detailed neuropsychological analysis of a cohort of long-term HIV-1-infected individuals in conjunction with sequencing of their mitochondrial genomes. Stepwise regression analysis showed that the best model for predicting both working memory and declarative memory were age and years since diagnosis. In contrast, years since diagnosis and sub-haplogroup were significantly predictive of psychomotor speed. Consistent with this, patients with haplogroup L3e obtained better scores on psychomotor speed and dexterity tasks when compared to the remainder of the cohort, suggesting that this haplogroup provides a protective advantage when faced with the combined stress of HIV-1 infection and long-term antiretroviral therapies. Differential performance on declarative memory tasks was noted for individuals with other sub-L haplogroups, but these differences were not as robust as the association between L3e and psychomotor speed and dexterity tasks. This work provides evidence that mitochondrial haplogroup is related to neuropsychological test performance among patients in chronic disease settings such as HIV-1 infection.
PMCID: PMC5053473  PMID: 27711166
3.  Prolonged Morphine Exposure Induces Increased Firm Adhesion in an in Vitro Model of the Blood–Brain Barrier 
The blood–brain barrier (BBB) has been defined as a critically important protective barrier that is involved in providing essential biologic, physiologic, and immunologic separation between the central nervous system (CNS) and the periphery. Insults to the BBB can cause overall barrier damage or deregulation of the careful homeostasis maintained between the periphery and the CNS. These insults can, therefore, yield numerous phenotypes including increased overall permeability, interendothelial gap formation, alterations in cytokine and chemokine secretion, and accelerated cellular passage. The current studies expose the human brain microvascular endothelial cell line, hCMEC/D3, to prolonged morphine exposure and aim to uncover the mechanisms underlying alterations in barrier function in vitro. These studies show alterations in the mRNA and protein levels of the cellular adhesion molecules (CAMs) intercellular adhesion molecule-1, vascular cell adhesion molecule-1, and activated leukocyte cell adhesion molecule that correlate with an increased firm adhesion of the CD3+ subpopulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Overall, these studies suggest that prolonged morphine exposure may result in increased cell migration into the CNS, which may accelerate pathological processes in many diseases that involve the BBB.
PMCID: PMC4926449  PMID: 27294916
blood–brain barrier; brain microvascular endothelial cells (BMEC); morphine; (peripheral blood mononuclear cell) PBMC; cellular adhesion molecules (CAM)
4.  HIV-1 Genetic Variation Resulting in the Development of New Quasispecies Continues to Be Encountered in the Peripheral Blood of Well-Suppressed Patients 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(5):e0155382.
As a result of antiretroviral therapeutic strategies, human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection has become a long-term clinically manageable chronic disease for many infected individuals. However, despite this progress in therapeutic control, including undetectable viral loads and CD4+ T-cell counts in the normal range, viral mutations continue to accumulate in the peripheral blood compartment over time, indicating either low level reactivation and/or replication. Using patients from the Drexel Medicine CNS AIDS Research and Eradication Study (CARES) Cohort, whom have been sampled longitudinally for more than 7 years, genetic change was modeled against to the dominant integrated proviral quasispecies with respect to selection pressures such as therapeutic interventions, AIDS defining illnesses, and other factors. Phylogenetic methods based on the sequences of the LTR and tat exon 1 of the HIV-1 proviral DNA quasispecies were used to obtain an estimate of an average mutation rate of 5.3 nucleotides (nt)/kilobasepair (kb)/year (yr) prior to initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART). Following ART the baseline mutation rate was reduced to an average of 1.02 nt/kb/yr. The post-ART baseline rate of genetic change, however, appears to be unique for each patient. These studies represent our initial steps in quantifying rates of genetic change among HIV-1 quasispecies using longitudinally sampled sequences from patients at different stages of disease both before and after initiation of combination ART. Notably, while long-term ART reduced the estimated mutation rates in the vast majority of patients studied, there was still measurable HIV-1 mutation even in patients with no detectable virus by standard quantitative assays. Determining the factors that affect HIV-1 mutation rates in the peripheral blood may lead to elucidation of the mechanisms associated with changes in HIV-1 disease severity.
PMCID: PMC4873138  PMID: 27195985
5.  Utilization of HIV-1 envelope V3 to identify X4- and R5-specific Tat and LTR sequence signatures 
Retrovirology  2016;13:32.
HIV-1 entry is a receptor-mediated process directed by the interaction of the viral envelope with the host cell CD4 molecule and one of two co-receptors, CCR5 or CXCR4. The amino acid sequence of the third variable (V3) loop of the HIV-1 envelope is highly predictive of co-receptor utilization preference during entry, and machine learning predictive algorithms have been developed to characterize sequences as CCR5-utilizing (R5) or CXCR4-utilizing (X4). It was hypothesized that while the V3 loop is predominantly responsible for determining co-receptor binding, additional components of the HIV-1 genome may contribute to overall viral tropism and display sequence signatures associated with co-receptor utilization.
The accessory protein Tat and the HlV-1 long terminal repeat (LTR) were analyzed with respect to genetic diversity and compared by Jensen–Shannon divergence which resulted in a correlation with both mean genetic diversity as well as the absolute difference in genetic diversity between R5- and X4-genome specific trends. As expected, the V3 domain of the gp120 protein was enriched with statistically divergent positions. Statistically divergent positions were also identified in Tat amino acid sequences within the transactivation and TAR-binding domains, and in nucleotide positions throughout the LTR. We further analyzed LTR sequences for putative transcription factor binding sites using the JASPAR transcription factor binding profile database and found several putative differences in transcription factor binding sites between R5 and X4 HIV-1 genomes, specifically identifying the C/EBP sites I and II, and Sp site III to differ with respect to sequence configuration for R5 and X4 LTRs.
These observations support the hypothesis that co-receptor utilization coincides with specific genetic signatures in HIV-1 Tat and the LTR, likely due to differing transcriptional regulatory mechanisms and selective pressures applied within specific cellular targets during the course of productive HIV-1 infection.
PMCID: PMC4855882  PMID: 27143130
HIV-1; Co-receptor; Tropism; LTR; Tat; V3; gp120; Diversity; Divergence; Transcription factor
6.  HIV-1 Promoter Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms Are Associated with Clinical Disease Severity 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(4):e0150835.
The large majority of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) markers of disease progression/severity previously identified have been associated with alterations in host genetic and immune responses, with few studies focused on viral genetic markers correlate with changes in disease severity. This study presents a cross-sectional/longitudinal study of HIV-1 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) contained within the viral promoter or long terminal repeat (LTR) in patients within the Drexel Medicine CNS AIDS Research and Eradication Study (CARES) Cohort. HIV-1 LTR SNPs were found to associate with the classical clinical disease parameters CD4+ T-cell count and log viral load. They were found in both defined and undefined transcription factor binding sites of the LTR. A novel SNP identified at position 108 in a known COUP (chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter)/AP1 transcription factor binding site was significantly correlated with binding phenotypes that are potentially the underlying cause of the associated clinical outcome (increase in viral load and decrease in CD4+ T-cell count).
PMCID: PMC4839606  PMID: 27100290
7.  Interaction between Tat and Drugs of Abuse during HIV-1 Infection and Central Nervous System Disease 
In many individuals, drug abuse is intimately linked with HIV-1 infection. In addition to being associated with one-third of all HIV-1 infections in the United States, drug abuse also plays a role in disease progression and severity in HIV-1-infected patients, including adverse effects on the central nervous system (CNS). Specific systems within the brain are known to be damaged in HIV-1-infected individuals and this damage is similar to that observed in drug abuse. Even in the era of anti-retroviral therapy (ART), CNS pathogenesis occurs with HIV-1 infection, with a broad range of cognitive impairment observed, collectively referred to as HIV-1-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND). A number of HIV-1 proteins (Tat, gp120, Nef, Vpr) have been implicated in the etiology of pathogenesis and disease as a result of the biologic activity of the extracellular form of each of the proteins in a number of tissues, including the CNS, even in ART-suppressed patients. In this review, we have made Tat the center of attention for a number of reasons. First, it has been shown to be synthesized and secreted by HIV-1-infected cells in the CNS, despite the most effective suppression therapies available to date. Second, Tat has been shown to alter the functions of several host factors, disrupting the molecular and biochemical balance of numerous pathways contributing to cellular toxicity, dysfunction, and death. In addition, the advantages and disadvantages of ART suppression with regard to controlling the genesis and progression of neurocognitive impairment are currently under debate in the field and are yet to be fully determined. In this review, we discuss the individual and concerted contributions of HIV-1 Tat, drug abuse, and ART with respect to damage in the CNS, and how these factors contribute to the development of HAND in HIV-1-infected patients.
PMCID: PMC4707230  PMID: 26793168
HIV-1; Tat; drugs of abuse; ART; HAND; blood-brain barrier; CNS cells
8.  Modeling Bone Marrow Progenitor Cell Differentiation and Susceptibility to HIV-1 Infection 
MOJ immunology  2014;1(2):00009.
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection of the monocytic lineage is involved in the pathologic events associated with AIDS and HIV-1-associated dementia (HAD). Hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs) within the bone marrow are refractile to HIV-1 infection, while their progeny of the monocyte-macrophage lineage are susceptible. Previous studies, using phorbol-myristate-acetate (PMA) as a differentiating agent, have suggested that the CD34+/CD38+ TF-1 cell line may be used as one model to study the differentiation processes of HPCs. In the present study, medium that has been conditioned by PMA-treated TF-1 cells but is devoid of any traces of PMA, was utilized to induce differentiation of TF-1 cells. The conditioned medium (CM) from this bone marrow-derived cell population is enriched with respect to numerous cytokines and induces differentiation and activation of TF-1 cells, as indicated by changes in the expression of CD34, CD38, and CD69 cell surface molecules. Furthermore, treatment with CM was also shown to induce the expression of CCR5 and CXCR4, while maintaining the expression of CD4, which was ultimately correlated with increased susceptibility to HIV-1. Additionally, the activation of the TF-1 cells was shown to lead to increased LTR activity, with specificity protein (Sp) and nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells) NF-κB factors playing a crucial role in HIV-1 long terminal repeat (LTR)-mediated transcription and possibly overall TF-1 permissivity. Interleukin (IL)-1β, which is elevated in the CM, recapitulates some of the CM effects. In summary, these studies suggest that the TF-1 cell line could serve as a model to study the susceptibility of bone marrow progenitor cells to HIV-1 infection.
PMCID: PMC4517689  PMID: 26229980
TF-1; Monocyte; Conditioned medium; IL-1β; CD34; CD38
9.  Cocaine Alters Cytokine Profiles in HIV-1-Infected African American Individuals in the DrexelMed HIV/AIDS Genetic Analysis Cohort 
This study evaluated the relationship between illicit drug use and HIV-1 disease severity in HIV-1-infected patients enrolled in the DrexelMed HIV/AIDS Genetic Analysis Cohort. Since, cocaine is known to have immunomodulatory effects, the cytokine profiles of preferential nonusers, cocaine users, and multidrug users were analyzed to understand the effects of cocaine on cytokine modulation and HIV-1 disease severity.
Patients within the cohort were assessed approximately every 6 months for HIV-1 clinical markers and for history of illicit drug, alcohol, and tobacco use. The Luminex human cytokine 30-plex panel was used for cytokine quantitation. Analysis was performed using a newly developed biostatistical model.
Substance abuse was common within the cohort. Utilizing the drug screens at the time of each visit, the subjects in the cohort were categorized as preferential nonusers, cocaine users, or multidrug users. The overall health of the nonuser population was better than that of the cocaine users, with peak and current viral loads in nonusers substantially lower than those in cocaine and multidrug users. Among the 30 cytokines investigated, differential levels were established within the 3 populations. The T-helper 2 cytokines, interleukin-4 and -10, known to play a critical role during HIV-1 infection, were positively associated with increasing cocaine use. Clinical parameters such as latest viral load, CD4+ T-cell counts, and CD4:CD8 ratio were also significantly associated with cocaine use, depending on the statistical model used.
Based on these assessments, cocaine use appears to be associated with more severe HIV-1 disease.
PMCID: PMC4146625  PMID: 24732878
HIV; cocaine; cytokines; drug use; interleukin-4; interleukin-10
10.  Bioinformatic Analysis of HIV-1 Entry and Pathogenesis 
Current HIV research  2014;12(2):132-161.
The evolution of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) with respect to co-receptor utilization has been shown to be relevant to HIV-1 pathogenesis and disease. The CCR5-utilizing (R5) virus has been shown to be important in the very early stages of transmission and highly prevalent during asymptomatic infection and chronic disease. In addition, the R5 virus has been proposed to be involved in neuroinvasion and central nervous system (CNS) disease. In contrast, the CXCR4-utilizing (X4) virus is more prevalent during the course of disease progression and concurrent with the loss of CD4+ T cells. The dual-tropic virus is able to utilize both co-receptors (CXCR4 and CCR5) and has been thought to represent an intermediate transitional virus that possesses properties of both X4 and R5 viruses that can be encountered at many stages of disease. The use of computational tools and bioinformatic approaches in the prediction of HIV-1 co-receptor usage has been growing in importance with respect to understanding HIV-1 pathogenesis and disease, developing diagnostic tools, and improving the efficacy of therapeutic strategies focused on blocking viral entry. Current strategies have enhanced the sensitivity, specificity, and reproducibility relative to the prediction of co-receptor use; however, these technologies need to be improved with respect to their efficient and accurate use across the HIV-1 subtypes. The most effective approach may center on the combined use of different algorithms involving sequences within and outside of the env-V3 loop. This review focuses on the HIV-1 entry process and on co-receptor utilization, including bioinformatic tools utilized in the prediction of co-receptor usage. It also provides novel preliminary analyses for enabling identification of linkages between amino acids in V3 with other components of the HIV-1 genome and demonstrates that these linkages are different between X4 and R5 viruses.
PMCID: PMC4382797  PMID: 24862329
CCR5; coreceptor; CXCR4; HIV; mutual information; PSSM
11.  Impact of Viral Activators and Epigenetic Regulators on HIV-1 LTRs Containing Naturally Occurring Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms 
BioMed Research International  2015;2015:320642.
Following human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) integration into host cell DNA, the viral promoter can become transcriptionally silent in the absence of appropriate signals and factors. HIV-1 gene expression is dependent on regulatory elements contained within the long terminal repeat (LTR) that drive the synthesis of viral RNAs and proteins through interaction with multiple host and viral factors. Previous studies identified single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within CCAAT/enhancer binding protein (C/EBP) site I and Sp site III (3T, C-to-T change at position 3, and 5T, C-to-T change at position 5 of the binding site, respectively, when compared to the consensus B sequence) that are low affinity binding sites and correlate with more advanced stages of HIV-1 disease. Stably transfected cell lines containing the wild type, 3T, 5T, and 3T5T LTRs were developed utilizing bone marrow progenitor, T, and monocytic cell lines to explore the LTR phenotypes associated with these genotypic changes from an integrated chromatin-based microenvironment. Results suggest that in nonexpressing cell clones LTR-driven gene expression occurs in a SNP-specific manner in response to LTR activation or treatment with trichostatin A treatment, indicating a possible cell type and SNP-specific mechanism behind the epigenetic control of LTR activation.
PMCID: PMC4299542  PMID: 25629043
12.  Biomarkers of HIV Susceptibility and Disease Progression☆ 
EBioMedicine  2014;1(2-3):99-100.
PMCID: PMC4457401  PMID: 26137515
13.  Effect of μ-opioid agonist DAMGO on surface CXCR4 and HIV-1 replication in TF-1 human bone marrow progenitor cells 
BMC Research Notes  2014;7:752.
Approximately one-third of the AIDS cases in the United States have been attributed to the use of injected drugs, frequently involving the abuse of opioids. Consequently, it is critical to address whether opioid use directly contributes to altered susceptibility to HIV-1 beyond the increased risk of exposure. Previous in vitro and in vivo studies addressing the role of μ-opioid agonists in altering levels of the co-receptor CXCR4 and subsequent HIV-1 replication have yielded contrasting results. The bone marrow is believed to be a potential anatomical sanctuary for HIV-1.
The well-characterized CD34+CD38+ human bone marrow–derived hematopoietic progenitor cell line TF-1 was used as a model to investigate the effects of the μ-opioid receptor–specific peptide DAMGO (D-Ala2,N-Me-Phe4, Gly5-ol-enkephalin) on CXCR4 expression as well as infection of undifferentiated human hematopoietic progenitor cells.
The results revealed the presence of the μ-opioid receptor-1 isoform (MOR-1) on the surface of TF-1 cells. Furthermore, immunostaining revealed that the majority of TF-1 cells co-express MOR-1 and CXCR4, and a subpopulation of these double-positive cells express the two receptors in overlapping membrane domains. Three subpopulations of TF-1 cells were categorized based on their levels of surface CXCR4 expression, defined as non-, low-, and high-expressing. Flow cytometry indicated that treatment with DAMGO resulted in a shift in the relative proportion of CXCR4+ cells to the low-expressing phenotype. This result correlated with a >3-fold reduction in replication of the X4 HIV-1 strain IIIB, indicating a role for the CXCR4 high-expression subpopulation in sustaining infection within this progenitor cell line.
These experiments provide insight into the impact of μ-opioid exposure with respect to inhibition of viral replication in this human TF-1 bone marrow progenitor cell line model.
PMCID: PMC4216373  PMID: 25338959
μ-opioid receptor (MOR-1); DAMGO; Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1); Bone marrow; CXCR4
14.  Defining Differential Genetic Signatures in CXCR4- and the CCR5-Utilizing HIV-1 Co-Linear Sequences 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e107389.
The adaptation of human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) to an array of physiologic niches is advantaged by the plasticity of the viral genome, encoded proteins, and promoter. CXCR4-utilizing (X4) viruses preferentially, but not universally, infect CD4+ T cells, generating high levels of virus within activated HIV-1-infected T cells that can be detected in regional lymph nodes and peripheral blood. By comparison, the CCR5-utilizing (R5) viruses have a greater preference for cells of the monocyte-macrophage lineage; however, while R5 viruses also display a propensity to enter and replicate in T cells, they infect a smaller percentage of CD4+ T cells in comparison to X4 viruses. Additionally, R5 viruses have been associated with viral transmission and CNS disease and are also more prevalent during HIV-1 disease. Specific adaptive changes associated with X4 and R5 viruses were identified in co-linear viral sequences beyond the Env-V3. The in silico position-specific scoring matrix (PSSM) algorithm was used to define distinct groups of X4 and R5 sequences based solely on sequences in Env-V3. Bioinformatic tools were used to identify genetic signatures involving specific protein domains or long terminal repeat (LTR) transcription factor sites within co-linear viral protein R (Vpr), trans-activator of transcription (Tat), or LTR sequences that were preferentially associated with X4 or R5 Env-V3 sequences. A number of differential amino acid and nucleotide changes were identified across the co-linear Vpr, Tat, and LTR sequences, suggesting the presence of specific genetic signatures that preferentially associate with X4 or R5 viruses. Investigation of the genetic relatedness between X4 and R5 viruses utilizing phylogenetic analyses of complete sequences could not be used to definitively and uniquely identify groups of R5 or X4 sequences; in contrast, differences in the genetic diversities between X4 and R5 were readily identified within these co-linear sequences in HIV-1-infected patients.
PMCID: PMC4180074  PMID: 25265194
15.  Functional properties of the HIV-1 long terminal repeat containing single-nucleotide polymorphisms in Sp site III and CCAAT/enhancer binding protein site I 
Virology Journal  2014;11:92.
HIV-1 gene expression is driven by the long terminal repeat (LTR), which contains many binding sites shown to interact with an array of host and viral factors. Selective pressures within the host as well as the low fidelity of reverse transcriptase lead to changes in the relative prevalence of genetic variants within the HIV-1 genome, including the LTR, resulting in viral quasispecies that can be differentially regulated and can potentially establish niches within specific cell types and tissues.
Utilizing flow cytometry and electromobility shift assays, specific single-nucleotide sequence polymorphisms (SNPs) were shown to alter both the phenotype of LTR-driven transcription and reactivation. Additional studies also demonstrated differential loading of transcription factors to probes derived from the double-variant LTR as compared to probes from the wild type.
This study has identified specific SNPs within CCAAT/enhancer binding protein (C/EBP) site I and Sp site III (3 T, C-to-T change at position 3, and 5 T, C-to-T change at position 5 of the binding site, respectively) that alter LTR-driven gene transcription and may alter the course of viral latency and reactivation. The HIV-1 LAI LTRs containing the SNPs of interest were coupled to a plasmid encoding green fluorescent protein (GFP), and polyclonal HIV-1 LTR-GFP stable cell lines utilizing bone marrow progenitor, T, and monocytic cell lines were constructed and utilized to explore the LTR phenotype associated with these genotypic changes.
Although the 3 T and 5 T SNPs have been shown to be low-affinity binding sites, the fact that they can still result in effective HIV-1 LTR-driven gene expression, particularly within the TF-1 cell line, has suggested that the low binding site affinities associated with the 3 T C/EBP site I and 5 T Sp site III are potentially compensated for by the interaction of nuclear factor-κB with its corresponding binding sites under selected physiological and cellular conditions. Additionally, tumor necrosis factor-α and Tat can enhance basal transcription of each SNP-specific HIV-1 LTR; however, differential regulation of the LTR is both SNP- and cell type-specific.
PMCID: PMC4047001  PMID: 24886416
HIV-1 genetics; Viral transcription; Integration; Viral latency; Single-nucleotide polymorphisms; C/EBP; Sp
16.  Impact of age on markers of HIV-1 disease 
Future virology  2013;8(1):81-101.
Aging is a complicated process characterized by a progressive loss of homeostasis, which results in an increased vulnerability to multiple diseases. HIV-1-infected patients demonstrate a premature aging phenotype and develop certain age-related diseases earlier in their lifespan than what is seen in the general population. Age-related comorbidities may include the development of bone disease, metabolic disorders, neurologic impairment and immunosenescence. Age also appears to have an effect on traditional markers of HIV-1 disease progression, including CD4+ T-cell count and viral load. These effects are not only a consequence of HIV-1 infection, but in many cases, are also linked to antiretroviral therapy. This review summarizes the complex interplay between HIV-1 infection and aging, and the impact that aging has on markers of HIV-1 disease.
PMCID: PMC3625689  PMID: 23596462
aging; comorbidities; disease progression; HIV-1; neurocognitive impairment
17.  Role of mu-opioids as cofactors in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 disease progression and neuropathogenesis 
Journal of neurovirology  2011;17(4):291-302.
About one third of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome cases in the USA have been attributed to the use of injected addictive drugs, frequently involving opioids like heroin and morphine, establishing them as significant predisposing risk factors for contracting human immuno-deficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). Accumulating evidence from in vitro and in vivo experimental systems indicates that opioids act in concert with HIV-1 proteins to exacerbate dysregulation of neural and immune cell function and survival through diverse molecular mechanisms. In contrast, the impact of opioid exposure and withdrawal on the viral life cycle and HIV-1 disease progression itself is unclear, with conflicting reports emerging from the simian immunodeficiency virus and simian–human immunodeficiency virus infection models. However, these studies suggest a potential role of opioids in elevated viral production. Because human microglia, astrocytes, CD4+ T lymphocytes, and monocyte-derived macrophages express opioid receptors, it is likely that intracellular signaling events triggered by morphine facilitate enhancement of HIV-1 infection in these target cell populations. This review highlights the biochemical changes that accompany prolonged exposure to and withdrawal from morphine that synergize with HIV-1 proteins to disrupt normal cellular physiological functions especially within the central nervous system. More importantly, it collates evidence from epidemiological studies, animal models, and heterologous cell systems to propose a mechanistic link between such physiological adaptations and direct modulation of HIV-1 production. Understanding the opioid–HIV-1 interface at the molecular level is vitally important in designing better treatment strategies for HIV-1-infected patients who abuse opioids.
PMCID: PMC3757547  PMID: 21735315
Opioids; HIV-1; Cyclic AMP (cAMP)
18.  Substance abuse, HIV-1 and hepatitis 
Current HIV research  2012;10(7):557-571.
During the course of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) disease, the virus has been shown to effectively escape the immune response with the subsequent establishment of latent viral reservoirs in specific cell populations within the peripheral blood (PB) and associated lymphoid tissues, bone marrow (BM), brain, and potentially other end organs. HIV-1, along with hepatitis B and C viruses (HBV and HCV), are known to share similar routes of transmission, including intravenous drug use, blood transfusions, sexual intercourse, and perinatal exposure. Substance abuse, including the use of opioids and cocaine, is a significant risk factor for exposure to HIV-1 and the development of acquired immune deficiency syndrome, as well as HBV and HCV exposure, infection, and disease. Thus, coinfection with HIV-1 and HBV or HCV is common and may be impacted by chronic substance abuse during the course of disease. HIV-1 impacts the natural course of HBV and HCV infection by accelerating the progression of HBV/HCV-associated liver disease toward end-stage cirrhosis and quantitative depletion of the CD4+ T-cell compartment. HBV or HCV coinfection with HIV-1 is also associated with increased mortality when compared to either infection alone. This review focuses on the impact of substance abuse and coinfection with HBV and HCV in the PB, BM, and brain on the HIV-1 pathogenic process as it relates to viral pathogenesis, disease progression, and the associated immune response during the course of this complex interplay. The impact of HIV-1 and substance abuse on hepatitis virus-induced disease is also a focal point.
PMCID: PMC3708479  PMID: 22973853
bone marrow; brain; cocaine; HBV; HCV; HIV-1; opioids
19.  Introducing metallocene into a triazole peptide conjugate reduces its off-rate and enhances its affinity and antiviral potency for HIV-1 gp120 
In this work, we identified a high affinity and potency metallocene-containing triazole peptide conjugate that suppresses the interactions of HIV-1 envelope gp120 at both its CD4 and co-receptor binding sites. The ferrocene-peptide conjugate, HNG-156, was formed by an on-resin copper-catalysed [2 + 3] cycloaddition reaction. Surface plasmon resonance interaction analysis revealed that, compared to a previously reported phenyl-containing triazole conjugate HNG-105 (105), peptide 156 had a higher direct binding affinity for several subtypes of HIV-1 gp120 due mainly to the decreased dissociation rate of the conjugate-gp120 complex. The ferrocene triazole conjugate bound to gp120 of both clade A (92UG037-08) and clade B (YU-2 and SF162) virus subtypes with nanomolar KD in direct binding and inhibited the binding of gp120 to soluble CD4 and to antibodies that bind to HIV-1YU-2 gp120 at both the CD4 binding site and CD4-induced binding sites. HNG-156 showed a close-to nanomolar IC50 for inhibiting cell infection by HIV-1BaL whole virus. The dual receptor site antagonist activity and potency of HNG-156 make it a promising viral envelope inhibitor lead for developing anti-HIV-1 treatments.
PMCID: PMC3652662  PMID: 18498083
HIV-1 gp120; entry inhibitors; peptide triazoles; surface plasmon resonance; cell infection
20.  Antiviral Breadth and Combination Potential of Peptide Triazole HIV-1 Entry Inhibitors 
The first stage of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection involves the fusion of viral and host cellular membranes mediated by viral envelope glycoprotein gp120. Inhibitors that specifically target gp120 are gaining increased attention as therapeutics or preventatives to prevent the spread of HIV-1. One promising new group of inhibitors is the peptide triazoles, which bind to gp120 and simultaneously block its interaction with both CD4 and the coreceptor. In this study, we assessed the most potent peptide triazole, HNG-156, for inhibitory breadth, cytotoxicity, and efficacy, both alone and in combination with other antiviral compounds, against HIV-1. HNG-156 inhibited a panel of 16 subtype B and C isolates of HIV-1 in a single-round infection assay. Inhibition of cell infection by replication-competent clinical isolates of HIV-1 was also observed with HNG-156. We found that HNG-156 had a greater than predicted effect when combined with several other entry inhibitors or the reverse transcriptase inhibitor tenofovir. Overall, we find that HNG-156 is noncytotoxic, has a broad inhibition profile, and provides a positive combination with several inhibitors of the HIV-1 life cycle. These results support the pursuit of efficacy and toxicity analyses in more advanced cell and animal models to develop peptide triazole family inhibitors of HIV-1 into antagonists of HIV-1 infection.
PMCID: PMC3264272  PMID: 22083481
21.  Impact of Tat Genetic Variation on HIV-1 Disease 
Advances in Virology  2012;2012:123605.
The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) promoter or long-terminal repeat (LTR) regulates viral gene expression by interacting with multiple viral and host factors. The viral transactivator protein Tat plays an important role in transcriptional activation of HIV-1 gene expression. Functional domains of Tat and its interaction with transactivation response element RNA and cellular transcription factors have been examined. Genetic variation within tat of different HIV-1 subtypes has been shown to affect the interaction of the viral transactivator with cellular and/or viral proteins, influencing the overall level of transcriptional activation as well as its action as a neurotoxic protein. Consequently, the genetic variability within tat may impact the molecular architecture of functional domains of the Tat protein that may impact HIV pathogenesis and disease. Tat as a therapeutic target for anti-HIV drugs has also been discussed.
PMCID: PMC3414192  PMID: 22899925
22.  Breaking Down the Barrier: The effects of HIV-1 on the Blood-Brain Barrier 
Brain research  2011;1399:96-115.
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) primarily infects CD4+ T cells and cells of the monocyte-macrophage lineage, resulting in immunodeficiency in an infected patient. Along with this immune deficiency, HIV-1 has been linked to a number of neurological symptoms in the absence of opportunistic infections or other co-morbidities, suggesting that HIV-1 is able to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB), enter the central nervous system (CNS), and cause neurocognitive impairment. HIV-1-infected monocyte-macrophages traverse the BBB and enter the CNS throughout the course of HIV-1 disease. Once in the brain, both free virus and virus-infected cells are able to infect neighboring resident microglia and astrocytes and possibly other cell types. HIV-1-infected cells in both the periphery and the CNS give rise to elevated levels of viral proteins, including gp120, Tat, and Nef, and of host inflammatory mediators such as cytokines and chemokines. It has been shown that the viral proteins may act alone or in concert with host cytokines and chemokines, affecting the integrity of the BBB. The pathological end point of these interactions may facilitate a positive feedback loop resulting in increased penetration of HIV into the CNS. It is proposed in this review that the dysregulation of the BBB during and after neuroinvasion is a critical component of the neuropathogenic process and that dysregulation of this protective barrier is caused by a combination of viral and host factors including secreted viral proteins, components of the inflammatory process, the aging process, therapeutics, and drug or alcohol abuse.
PMCID: PMC3139430  PMID: 21641584
HIV; blood-brain barrier; Tat; Nef; gp120; drugs of abuse
23.  Transcriptional regulation of the chemokine co-receptor CCR5 by the cAMP/PKA/CREB pathway 
The cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)-dependent signaling pathway directs the expression of several genes involved in diverse neuroendocrine, immune, metabolic, and developmental pathways. The primary effectors of this pathway are members of the cAMP response element binding (CREB) family of transcription factors, in particular the CREB-1 and cAMP response element modulator (CREM). Both these genes encode alternative splice variants that serve as activators or repressors in a context- and position-specific manner. Although the β- chemokine receptor CC chemokine receptor 5 (CCR5) has been identified on progenitor cells in the bone marrow, the regulatory mechanisms orchestrating its expression are not fully understood. Previous reports have identified putative cAMP response elements in the CCR5 promoter and have described a suppressive role of cAMP in CCR5 expression. In this study, the CD34+CD4+CCR5+ human bone marrow progenitor cell line TF-1 was used to investigate the detailed kinetics of CCR5 transcription in response to the elevation of intracellular cAMP levels and the underlying molecular events. We hypothesize that CCR5 transcription follows an asymmetrical sinusoidal pattern in TF-1 cells that parallels a protein kinase A-dependent alternating change in the ratio of activator pCREB-1-α,Δ to repressor pCREM-α,β isoforms. However, elevated CCR5 mRNA levels do not correlate with enhancement in infectivity with respect to the R5 human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) strain. Our results lend critical insight into the precise mechanism governing the cAMP-CCR5 axis in progenitor cells and pose interesting questions regarding its functional role in HIV-1 infection.
PMCID: PMC3150495  PMID: 21719243
24.  Application and removal of polyanionic microbicide compounds enhances subsequent infection by HIV-1 
Virology Journal  2012;9:33.
Continued efforts are being directed toward the development of microbicides that will be used to reduce or eliminate the risk of HIV-1 sexual transmission. Unfortunately, clinical trials involving polyanion-containing microbicide formulations, including Carraguard (λ-carrageenan [LC]) and Ushercell (cellulose sulfate [CS]) demonstrated that these products were ineffective and may have, in some circumstances, increased the risk of HIV-1 infection. These findings prompted reassessments of the in vitro activities of these agents to determine whether variables that can affect agent safety and efficacy had been overlooked during preclinical testing. One such variable is product retention and loss following topical application.
In the present studies involving an HIV-1-susceptible cell line and primary human immune cells, product loss was mimicked by introducing and then removing polyanionic compounds prior to HIV-1 infection. In these in vitro "washout" experiments, LC and CS significantly enhanced HIV-1 infection, despite potent antiviral activity when introduced simultaneously with the virus. The presence and magnitude of this effect were dependent on compound identity and concentration; target cell; interval between compound removal and virus challenge; and coreceptor usage. Levels of enhancement (relative to controls) were considerable, exceeding a 200% increase (CS) in P4-R5 MAGI cells and a 300% increase (LC) in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells.
These studies, which demonstrate significant increases in HIV-1 infection subsequent to application and removal of LC and CS, support plausible explanations for the failures of microbicides formulated from these compounds. Detailed studies are now underway to determine the mechanism responsible for this enhancement effect and to assess the potential contribution of this effect to the clinical failures of these agents.
PMCID: PMC3295645  PMID: 22281044
AIDS; HIV-1; Microbicide; Polyanion; Carrageenan; Cellulose sulfate; Enhancement
25.  Combinatorial Approaches to the Prevention and Treatment of HIV-1 Infection▿† 
The discovery of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) in 1982 soon led to the identification and development of antiviral compounds to be used in treatment strategies for infected patients. Early in the epidemic, drug monotherapies frequently led to treatment failures because the virus quickly developed resistance to the single drug. Following the advent of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in 1995, dramatic improvements in HIV-1-infected patient health and survival were realized as more refined combination therapies resulted in reductions in viral loads and increases in CD4+ T-cell counts. In the absence of an effective vaccine, prevention of HIV-1 infection has also gained traction as an approach to curbing the pandemic. The development of compounds as safe and effective microbicides has intensified and has focused on blocking the transmission of HIV-1 during all forms of sexual intercourse. Initial preclinical investigations and clinical trials of microbicides focused on single compounds effective against HIV-1. However, the remarkable successes achieved using combination therapy to treat systemic HIV-1 infection have subsequently stimulated the study and development of combination microbicides that will simultaneously inhibit multiple aspects of the HIV-1 transmission process by targeting incoming viral particles, virus-infected cells, and cells susceptible to HIV-1 infection. This review focuses on existing and developing combination therapies, covering preclinical development, in vitro and in vivo efficacy studies, and subsequent clinical trials. The shift in focus within the microbicide development field from single compounds to combination approaches is also explored.
PMCID: PMC3088245  PMID: 21343462

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