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1.  Short-term recognition memory correlates with regional CNS expression of microRNA-138 in mice 
We hypothesized that microRNA (miR) expression may be involved in memory function because they control local protein translation at synapses and dendritic spines.
Case-control animal study.
We assessed the miR repertoire in the hippocampus of young, 6-month old (n = 18), mice compared to aged, 26-month old (n = 23), mice and compared miR quantity to memory scores as determined by the novel object recognition task (NORT). We performed a histological brain regional analysis of miR-138, APT1 mRNA, and APT1 protein.
We found that higher miR-138 in the mouse hippocampus is correlated with better memory performance. We also found that acyl protein thioesterase 1 (APT1), a depalmytoylation enzyme expressed at dendritic spines whose translation is controlled by miR-138, mRNA is increased in the mouse hippocampal CA1 and dentate gyrus in aged mice compared to young, but not in mice with memory impairment. We found APT1 protein distribution to be lower in cells with high miR-138 expression.
These results suggest that increased miR-138 is associated with better memory and increased APT1 gene transcription occurs with aging. The role of miR-138 and APT1 protein function in memory and aging warrants further investigation.
PMCID: PMC3660985  PMID: 23570889
2.  Cerebral β-amyloid deposition predicts HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders in APOE ε4 carriers 
AIDS (London, England)  2012;26(18):2327-2335.
The apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 allele enhances cerebral accumulation of β-amyloid (Aβ) and is a major risk factor for sporadic Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We hypothesized that HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) would be associated with the APOE ε4 genotype and cerebral Aβ deposition.
Clinico-pathological study of HIV-infected adults from four prospective cohorts in the U.S. National NeuroAIDS Tissue Consortium.
We used multivariable logistic regressions to model outcomes (Aβ plaques [immunohistochemistry] and HAND [standard criteria]) on predictors (APOE ε4 [allelic discrimination assay], older age [≥ 50 years], Aβ plaques, and their two-way interactions) and co-morbid factors.
Isocortical Aβ deposits generally occurred as diffuse plaques and mild to moderate amyloid angiopathy. Isocortical phospho-Tau-immunoreactive neurofibrillary lesions were sparse. The APOE ε4 and older age were independently associated with the presence of Aβ plaques (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 10.16 and 5.77 [95% confidence interval (CI) 2.89–35.76 and 1.91–17.48], P=0.0003 and 0.0019, respectively, n=96). The probability of HAND was increased in the presence of Aβ plaques among APOE ε4 carriers (adjusted OR 30.00 [95% CI 1.41–638.63], P=0.029, n=15), but not in non-ε4 carriers (n=57).
The APOE ε4 and older age increased the likelihood of cerebral Aβ plaque deposition in HIV-infected adults. Generally Aβ plaques in HIV brains were immunohistologically different from those in symptomatic AD brains. Nonetheless, Aβ plaques were associated with HAND among APOE ε4 carriers. The detection of APOE ε4 genotype and cerebral Aβ deposition biomarkers may be useful in identifying living HAND subjects who could benefit from Aβ-targeted therapies.
PMCID: PMC3576852  PMID: 23018443
Apolipoprotein E; β-amyloid; HIV dementia; neurofibrillary pathology; phospho-Tau
3.  Modulation of BK Channel by MicroRNA-9 in Neurons After Exposure to HIV and Methamphetamine 
MicroRNAs (miR) regulate phenotype and function of neurons by binding to miR-response elements (MRE) in the 3′ untranslated regions (3′UTR) of various messenger RNAs to inhibit translation. MiR expression can be induced or inhibited by environmental factors like drug exposure and viral infection, leading to changes in cellular physiology. We hypothesized that the effects of methamphetamine (MA) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infection in the brain will induce changes in miR expression, and have downstream regulatory consequences in neurons. We first used a PCR-based array to screen for differential expression of 380 miRs in frontal cortex autopsy tissues of HIV-positive MA abusers and matched controls. These results showed significantly increased expression of the neuron-specific miR-9. In vitro, we used SH-SY5Y cells, an experimental system for dopaminergic studies, to determine miR expression by quantitative PCR after exposure to MA in the presence or absence of conditioned media from HIV-infected macrophages. Again, we found that miR-9 was significantly increased compared to controls. We also examined the inwardly rectifying potassium channel, KCNMA1, which has alternative splice variants that contain an MRE to miR-9. We identified alternate 3′UTRs of KCNMA1 both in vitro and in the autopsy specimens and found differential splice variant expression of KCNMA1, operating via the increased miR-9. Our results suggest that HIV and MA -induced elevated miR-9, leading to suppression of MRE-containing splice variants of KCNMA1, which may affect neurotransmitter release in dopaminergic neurons.
PMCID: PMC3715589  PMID: 23508624
BK-channel; microRNA; microRNA-9; methamphetamine; human immunodeficiency virus; HIV; neuron; brain
4.  Cytokine secretion from brain macrophages infected with human immunodeficiency virus in vitro and treated with raltegravir 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2014;14:386.
Integrase inhibitors are a promising class of antiretroviral drugs to treat chronic human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. During HIV infection, macrophages can extravasate from the blood to the brain, while producing chemotaxic proteins and cytokines, which have detrimental effects on central nervous system cells. The main goal of this study was to understand the effects of raltegravir (RAL) on human brain macrophage production of immune-mediators when infected with HIV, but did not compare with other antiretroviral agents.
Pro-inflammatory cytokines, IFN-γ, IL-10, IL-12-p70, IL-1, IL-8, TNF-α, and IL-6 were measured simultaneously in tissue culture supernatants from primary brain derived macrophages, microglia. We tested the effects of RAL on markers of astrocytosis and neurite integrity in primary human neuroglial cultures.
RAL administered at 20 nM effectively suppressed HIV infection in microglia over 9 days. Only IL-8, IL-10, and TNF-α were above the detection limit in the majority of samples and RAL significantly suppressed the rate of cytokine production in HIV-infected microglia. During RAL-alone, the rate of IL-8 secretion was higher.
RAL did not affect neurite area but inhibited astrocyte growth in the neuroglial cultures. Exploring the effects of RAL on pro-inflammatory molecule production in brain macrophages may contribute to designing ARV neuroprotective strategies in chronic HIV infection.
PMCID: PMC4227040  PMID: 25015002
Microglia; Human immunodeficiency virus; Integrase inhibitor; Raltegravir; IL-10; IL-8; TNF-α
6.  Neurovirological correlation with HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders and encephalitis in a HAART-era cohort 
Replicating HIV-1 in the brain is present in HIV encephalitis (HIVE) and microglial nodule encephalitis (MGNE) and is putatively linked with HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND). A clinico-neurovirological correlation was conducted to elucidate the relationship between brain viral load and clinical phenotype.
Subjects and assays
HIV gag/pol RNA and DNA copies were quantified with RT-PCR or PCR in 148 HAART-era brain specimens. Comparison to HAND, HIVE and MGNE and correlation with neuropsychological (NP) test scores were done using one-way ANOVA with Tukey-Kramer and Spearman’s tests respectively.
Brain HIV RNA was higher in subjects with HAND plus HIVE vs without HAND (delta = 2.48 log10 units, n = 27 vs 36, p < 0.001). In HAND without HIVE or MGNE, brain HIV RNA was not significantly different vs without HAND (p = 0.314). Worse NP scores correlated significantly with higher HIV RNA and interferon responses in brain specimens (p<0.001), but not with HIV RNA levels in premortem blood plasma (n = 114) or cerebrospinal fluid (n = 104). In subjects with MGNE, brain HIV RNA was slightly higher versus without MGNE (p<0.01), and much lower versus with HIVE (p<0.001).
Brain HIV RNA and to a lesser extent HIV DNA are correlated with worse NP performance in the 6 months before death. Linkage occurs primarily in patients with HIVE and MGNE; while on HAART these patients could obtain added NP improvement by further reducing brain HIV. Patients not in those groups are less certain to obtain added NP benefit.
PMCID: PMC3664102  PMID: 23242157
Dementia; encephalitis; HIVE; neurocognitive disorders; HAND; Interferon
7.  Antioxidant Sestrin-2 Redistribution to Neuronal Soma in Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Associated Neurocognitive Disorders 
Sestrin-2 is involved in p53-dependent antioxidant defenses and in the maintenance of metabolic homeostasis. We hypothesize that sestrin-2 expression is altered in the brains of subjects diagnosed with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) due to neuronal oxidative stress. We studied sestrin-2 immunoreactivity in 42 isocortex sections from HIV-1-infected subjects compared to 18 age-matched non-HIV controls and 19 advanced Alzheimer's disease (AD) cases. With HIV infection, the sestrin-2 immunoreactivity pattern shifted from neuropil predominance (N) to neuropil and neuronal-soma co-dominance (NS) and neuronalsoma predominance (S; P < 0.0001, Chi-square test for linear trend). Among HIV cases showing the NS or S pattern, HAND cases were preferentially associated with the S pattern (n = 10 of 20) compared to cognitively intact cases (n = 1 of 11; P = 0.047, Fisher's exact test). In AD brains, sestrin-2 immunoreactivity was mostly intense in the neuropil and co-localized with phospho-Tau immunoreactivity in a subset of neurofibrillary lesions. Phospho-Tau-immunoreactive neurofibrillary lesions were rare in HIV cases and their occurrence was not associated with HAND. Levels of isocortical 8-hydroxy-deoxyguanosine (marker of nucleic acid oxidation) immunoreactivity were not significantly altered in HAND cases compared to cognitively intact HIV cases. In conclusion, the sestrin-2 immunoreactivity redistribution to neuronal soma in HAND suggests unique involvement of sestrin-2 in the pathophysiology of HAND, which is different from the role of sestrin-2 in AD pathogenesis. Alternatively, the difference in sestrin-2 immunoreactivity distribution between HAND and AD may be related to different degrees of severity or stages of oxidative stress.
PMCID: PMC3573843  PMID: 22450766
Alzheimer's disease; HIV dementia; Neurofibrillary pathology; Oxidative stress; SESN2
8.  Erythropoietin Plus Insulin-like Growth Factor-I Protects against Neuronal Damage in a Murine Model of Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Associated Neurocognitive Disorders 
Annals of neurology  2010;68(3):342-352.
Prolonged human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) infection leads to neurological debilitation, including motor dysfunction and frank dementia. Although pharmacological control of HIV infection is now possible, HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) remain intractable. Here, we report that chronic treatment with erythropoietin (EPO) and insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) protects against HIV/gp120-mediated neuronal damage in culture and in vivo.
Initially, we tested the neuroprotective effects of various concentrations of EPO, IGF-I, or EPO+IGF-I from gp120-induced damage in vitro. To assess the chronic effects of EPO+IGF-I administration in vivo, we treated HIV/gp120-transgenic or wild-type mice transnasally once a week for 4 months and subsequently conducted immunohistochemical analyses.
Low concentrations of EPO+IGF-I provided neuroprotection from gp120 in vitro in a synergistic fashion. In vivo, EPO+IGF-I treatment prevented gp120-mediated neuronal loss, but did not alter microgliosis or astrocytosis. Strikingly, in the brains of both humans with HAND and gp120-transgenic mice, we found evidence for hyperphosphorylated tau protein (paired helical filament-I tau), which has been associated with neuronal damage and loss. In the mouse brain following transnasal treatment with EPO+IGF-I, in addition to neuroprotection we observed increased phosphorylation/activation of Akt (protein kinase B) and increased phosphorylation/inhibition of glycogen synthase kinase (GSK)-3β, dramatically decreasing downstream hyperphosphorylation of tau. These results indicate that the peptides affected their cognate signaling pathways within the brain parenchyma.
Our findings suggest that chronic combination therapy with EPO+IGF-I provides neuroprotection in a mouse model of HAND, in part, through cooperative activation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt/GSK-3β signaling. This combination peptide therapy should therefore be tested in humans with HAND.
PMCID: PMC3733362  PMID: 20818790
9.  Increased cortical expression of FK506 binding protein-51 in HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders 
Journal of Neurovirology  2012;18(4):313-322.
FK506 binding protein (FKBP)-51 and FKBP52 act as molecular chaperones to control glucocorticoid receptor (GR) sensitivity. Dysregulation of proteins involved in GR-mediated signaling can lead to maladaptive stress response and aging-related cognitive decline. As HIV infection is related to chronic stress, we hypothesized that altered cortical expression of these proteins was associated with HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND). We used quantitative immunohistochemistry to assess expression levels of these proteins in the mid-frontal gyrus of 55 HIV-infected subjects free of cerebral opportunistic diseases compared to 20 age-matched non-HIV controls. The immunoreactivity normalized to the neuroanatomic area measured (IRn) for FKBP51 was increased in HIV subjects both in the cortex and subcortical white matter (p<0.0001, U test), while no significant alterations were observed for GR or FKBP52. Notably, the cortical FKBP51 IRn was higher in HAND subjects than in cognitively normal HIV subjects (p=0.02, U test). There was also a trend for increasing cortical FKBP51 IRn with the increasing severity of HAND (p=0.08, Kruskal-Wallis test). No significant changes in FKBP51 IRn were found with respect to hepatitis C virus infection, lifetime methamphetamine use, or antiretroviral treatment in HIV subjects. In conclusion, the increased cortical expression of FKBP51 (an inhibitor for GR activity) might represent negative feedback in an attempt to reduce GR sensitivity in the setting of chronic stress-induced elevation of GR-mediated signaling inherent in HIV infection. The further increased FKBP51 expression might lead to maladaptive stress response and HAND.
PMCID: PMC3374917  PMID: 22234543
FKBP4; FKBP5; HIV dementia; Immunophilin; NR3C1
10.  Global NeuroAIDS Roundtable 
Journal of neurovirology  2013;19(1):1-9.
In May 2012, the Division of AIDS Research at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) organized the “Global NeuroAIDS Roundtable” in conjunction with the 11th International Symposium on Neurovirology and the 2012 Conference on HIV in the Nervous System. The meeting was held in New York, NY, USA and brought together NIMH-funded investigators who are currently working on projects related to the neurological complications of AIDS (NeuroAIDS) in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America in order to provide an opportunity to share their recent findings and discuss the challenges encountered within each country. The major goals of the roundtable were to evaluate HIV-associated neurocognitive impairment and determine if it may be directly attributable to distinct HIV subtypes or clades and to discuss the future priorities for global NeuroAIDS research. At the “Global NeuroAIDS Roundtable”, presentations of preliminary research indicated that HIV-associated neurocognitive impairment is prevalent in all countries examined regardless of which HIV clade is present in the region. The only clear-cut difference between HIV-1 clades was in relation to subtypes A and D in Uganda. However, a key point that emerged from the discussions was that there is an urgent need to standardize neurocognitive assessment methodologies across the globe before definitive conclusions can be drawn regarding the relationship between HIV clade diversity and neuropathogenesis. Future research directions were also discussed at the roundtable with particular emphasis on the potential of viral and host factor molecular interactions to impact the pathophysiology of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) from a global perspective.
PMCID: PMC3713197  PMID: 23354550
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and type 2 (HIV-2); Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS); HIV clade; NeuroAIDS; HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND); Neuropathogenesis
11.  Response of Cell Cycle Proteins to Neurotrophic Factor and Chemokine Stimulation in Human Neuroglia1 
Experimental neurology  2001;167(2):205-214.
Increased expression of neurotrophins (e.g., NGF, BDNF) and chemokines (e.g., RANTES) has been observed in neurodegenerative diseases. We examined the effect of these factors on intracellular signaling cascades inducing cell cycle proteins p53, pRb, and E2F1 in human fetal mixed neuronal and glial cells. Comparing neurotrophin- and chemokine-treated cultures with untreated controls showed altered subcellular localization and expression of hyperphosphorylated retinoblastoma protein (ppRb), E2F1, and p53. Using immunofluorescent laser confocal microscopy, E2F1 and ppRb were detected exclusively in neuronal nuclei in control cultures while p53 was cytoplasmic in astrocytes and nuclear in neurons. Following treatment with neurotrophins, E2F1 and ppRb were observed in the cytoplasm of neurons, while p53 was observed in both neuronal and astrocytic nuclei. Similar findings were observed following treatment with RANTES. Semiquantitative analysis using immunoblots showed an increase in the amount of phosphorylated pRb in treated cultures. Induction of cell cycle proteins may play a role in neurodegeneration associated with neurotrophin and chemokine stimulation.
PMCID: PMC3683587  PMID: 11161609
human; in vitro; neuroglia; E2F1; p53; pRb; neurodegeneration
12.  Tyrosine kinase B protein expression is reduced in the cerebellum of patients with bipolar disorder 
Journal of affective disorders  2011;133(3):646-654.
The role of the cerebellum in coordinating mental activity is supported by its connections with cerebral regions involved in cognitive/affective functioning, with decreased activities on functional neuroimaging observed in the cerebellum of schizophrenia patients performing mental tasks. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)-induced activation of tyrosine kinase B (TrkB) is essential to synaptic plasticity. We hypothesized that alterations in BDNF and TrkB expression in the cerebellum were associated with schizophrenia and affective disorders.
We employed immunohistochemistry and immunoblotting to quantify protein expression of BDNF and TrkB in the cerebellum of patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression compared to controls (n=15 each).
While TrkB immunoreactivity in each of the molecular and granule-cell layers was reduced in all 3 disease groups (12–34%) compared to the control (P=0.018 and 0.038, respectively, ANOVA), only the reduction in bipolar disorder remained statistically significant upon Tukey-Kramer post hoc analyses (P=0.019 and 0.021, respectively). Apparent decreases in BDNF immunoreactivity in all 3 disease groups (12–30%) compared to the control were not statistically significant. TrkB immunoreactivity was not significantly associated with any of the demographic, clinical, and postmortem variables. Immunoblotting displayed an 85-kDa TrkB-immunoreactive band, consistent with a truncated isoform, in all 60 cases.
On immunoblotting, apparent decreases in 85-kDa-TrkB levels in all 3 disease groups compared to the control were not statistically significant.
Our finding of reduced TrkB expression in bipolar disorder suggests that dysregulation of TrkB-mediated neurotrophin signaling in the cerebellum may play a role in the pathophysiology of this disease.
PMCID: PMC3163025  PMID: 21612826
Bipolar disorder; Brain-derived neurotrophic factor; Cerebellum; Major depression; Schizophrenia; TrkB
13.  Family History of Dementia Predicts Worse Neuropsychological Functioning Among HIV Infected Persons 
HIV-negative individuals with a family history of dementia (FHD) are more likely to develop dementia than those without a FHD. Whether FHD increases risk for neuropsychological (NP) impairment in HIV+ persons is unknown. As part of a multi-site study into HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorders (HAND), we captured FHD with a free-response, self-report question, and assessed NP performance with a comprehensive battery of tests. We examined HIV+ persons with (n=190) and without (n=916) self-reported FHD. Despite the fact that the FHD group had factors typically associated with better NP performance (e.g., higher CD4 counts and estimated verbal IQ [VIQ]), persons with FHD had significantly worse NP ability than those without FHD as measured by a Global Deficit Score (GDS) (FHD mean=0.66; No FHD mean=0.55; p<0.05). Thus, FHD appears to be a risk factor for HAND; the mechanism(s) underlying how FHD contributes to NP impairment among HIV+ persons warrants study.
PMCID: PMC3279193  PMID: 21948893
HIV; AIDS; Cognition; Aging; Dementia
14.  Phosphorylation of collapsin response mediator protein-2 disrupts neuronal maturation in a model of adult neurogenesis: Implications for neurodegenerative disorders 
Recent studies suggest that the pathogenic process in neurodegenerative disorders may disrupt mature neuronal circuitries and neurogenesis in the adult brain. Abnormal activation of CDK5 is associated with neurodegenerative disorders, and recently a critical role for CDK5 in adult neurogenesis has been identified. We have developed an in vitro model of abnormal CDK5 activation during adult hippocampal neurogenesis, and here we used this model to investigate aberrantly phosphorylated downstream targets of CDK5.
Abnormal CDK5 activation in an in vitro model of adult neurogenesis results in hyperphosphorylation of collapsin-response mediator protein-2 (CRMP2) and impaired neurite outgrowth. Inhibition of CDK5, or expression of a non-phosphorylatable (S522A) CRMP2 construct reduced CRMP2 hyperphosphorylation, and reversed neurite outgrowth deficits. CRMP2 plays a role in microtubule dynamics; therefore we examined the integrity of microtubules in this model using biochemical and electron microscopy techniques. We found that microtubule organization was disrupted under conditions of CDK5 activation. Finally, to study the relevance of these findings to neurogenesis in neurodegenerative conditions associated with HIV infection, we performed immunochemical analyses of the brains of patients with HIV and transgenic mice expressing HIV-gp120 protein. CDK5-mediated CRMP2 phosphorylation was significantly increased in the hippocampus of patients with HIV encephalitis and in gp120 transgenic mice, and this effect was rescued by genetic down-modulation of CDK5 in the mouse model.
These results reveal a functional mechanism involving microtubule destabilization through which abnormal CDK5 activation and CRMP2 hyperphosphorylation might contribute to defective neurogenesis in neurodegenerative disorders such as HIV encephalitis.
PMCID: PMC3204248  PMID: 21943307
neurogenesis; HIV; encephalitis; CRMP2; dpysl2; CDK5; microtubules; neurite outgrowth
15.  Glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β) inhibitors AR-A014418 and B6B3O prevent human immunodeficiency virus–mediated neurotoxicity in primary human neurons 
Journal of neurovirology  2009;15(5-6):434-438.
Glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK3β) role in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-associated neurodegeneration has been evidenced by previous investigations. In this study, we investigated the specificity of two GSK3β-specific inhibitors, AR-A014418 (A) and B6B30 (B) to prevent direct neurotoxicity in primary human neurons exposed to HIV (BaL). Neurons were exposed to HIV (500 pg/ml) for 12-h and 6-day periods in the presence and absence of A (1 µM, 100 nM, 10 nM) and B (50 nM, 5 nM, 500 pM) to investigate acute and ongoing mechanisms of HIV neurotoxicity. Using an lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) assay to assess cytotoxicity, we observed a significant neurotoxic effect of HIV from control values (P < .01) that was not restored via coexposures of all concentrations of A and B. Additionally, no change in LDH levels were observed after 6 days. However, activity of the acute proapoptotic markers caspases 3 and 7 using a luminescence assay were measured and found to be increased by exposure to HIV (BaL) compared to controls (P = .022). This effect was ameliorated via coexposure to all concentrations of A and 50 nM B after 12 h (P < .01) and to all concentrations of A and B after 6 days (P < .01). Overall, the results from this study provide further evidence for the ability of GSK3β inhibition to be neuroprotective against HIV-associated neurotoxicity by reducing HIV associated procaspase induction. These data support a role for GSK3β as a potential therapeutic target and may have important clinical implications for treatment of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder.
PMCID: PMC3065998  PMID: 19688630
AR-A014418; B6B30; caspase; GSK3β; HIV; neurotoxicity
16.  Increased hippocampal accumulation of autophagosomes predicts short-term recognition memory impairment in aged mice 
Age  2011;34(2):305-316.
Constitutive macroautophagy involved in the turnover of defective long-lived proteins and organelles is crucial for neuronal homeostasis. We hypothesized that macroautophagic dysregulation in selective brain regions was associated with memory impairment in aged mice. We used the single-trial object recognition test to measure short-term memory in 18 aged mice compared to 22 young mice and employed immunohistochemistry to assess cellular distribution of proteins involved in the selective degradation of ubiquitinated proteins via macroautophagy. Values of the discrimination ratio (DR, a measure of short-term recognition memory performance) in aged mice were significantly lower than those in young mice (median, 0.54 vs. 0.67; p = 0.005, U test). Almost exclusively in aged mice, there were clusters of puncta immunoreactive for microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 (LC3), ubiquitin- and LC3-binding protein p62, and ubiquitin in neuronal processes predominantly in the hippocampal formation, olfactory bulb/tubercle, and cerebellar cortex. The hippocampal burden of clustered puncta immunoreactive for LC3 and p62 exhibited inverse linear correlations with DR in aged mice (ρ = −0.48 and −0.55, p = 0.044 and 0.018, respectively, Spearman’s rank correlation). These findings suggest that increased accumulation of autophagosomes within neuronal processes in selective brain regions is characteristic of aging. The dysregulation of macroautophagy can adversely affect the turnover of aggregate-prone proteins and defective organelles, which may contribute to memory impairment in aged mice.
PMCID: PMC3312638  PMID: 21431350
Autophagy; Brain aging; MAP1LC3; Object recognition test; p62; Ubiquitin
17.  Increased Accumulation of Intraneuronal Amyloid β in HIV-Infected Patients 
In recent years, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients under highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) regimens have shown a markedly improved general clinical status; however, the prevalence of mild cognitive disorders has increased. We propose that increased longevity with HIV-mediated chronic inflammation combined with the secondary effects of HAART may increase the risk of early brain aging as shown by intra-neuronal accumulation of abnormal protein aggregates like amyloid β (Aβ), which might participate in worsening the neurodegenerative process and cognitive impairment in older patients with HIV. For this purpose, levels and distribution of Aβ immunoreactivity were analyzed in the frontal cortex of 43 patients with HIV (ages 38–60) and HIV− age-matched controls. Subcellular localization of the Aβ-immunoreactive material was analyzed by double labeling and confocal microscopy and by immunono-electron microscopy (EM). Compared to HIV− cases, in HIV+ cases, there was abundant intracellular Aβ immunostaining in pyramidal neurons and along axonal tracts. Cases with HIV encephalitis (HIVE) had higher levels of intraneuronal Aβ immunoreactivity compared to HIV+ cases with no HIVE. Moreover, levels of intracellular Aβ correlated with age in the group with HIVE. Double-labeling analysis showed that the Aβ-immunoreactive granules in the neurons co-localized with lysosomal markers such as cathepsin-D and LC3. Ultrastructural analysis by immuno-EM has confirmed that in these cases, intracellular Aβ was often found in structures displaying morphology similar to autophagosomes. These findings suggest that long-term survival with HIV might interfere with clearance of proteins such as Aβ and worsen neuronal damage and cognitive impairment in this population.
PMCID: PMC3055557  PMID: 19288297
HIV; AIDS; amyloid; encephalitis; protein aggregation
18.  Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) modulates GABAergic inhibition and seizure susceptibility 
Experimental neurology  2009;221(1):129-135.
Disrupted ontogeny of forebrain inhibitory interneurons leads to neurological disorders, including epilepsy. Adult mice lacking the urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (Plaur) have decreased numbers of neocortical GABAergic interneurons and spontaneous seizures, attributed to a reduction of hepatocyte growth factor/scatter factor (HGF/SF). We report that by increasing endogenous HGF/SF concentration in the postnatal Plaur null mouse brain maintains the interneuron populations in the adult, reverses the seizure behavior and stabilizes the spontaneous electroencephalogram activity. The perinatal intervention provides a pathway to reverse potential birth defects and ameliorate seizures in the adult.
PMCID: PMC2812579  PMID: 19853606
epilepsy; autism; HGF/SF; Met; urokinase; GABA; interneuron; seizure; parvalbumin; EEG
19.  Differential Expression of Immunophilins FKBP51 and FKBP52 in the Frontal Cortex of HIV-Infected Patients with Major Depressive Disorder 
Patients infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have a higher risk of developing major depressive disorder (MDD) than the general population. Immunophilins FKBP51 and FKBP52 are expressed in cortical neurons and regulate the function of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR). Previous reports have shown that genetic variants in the FKBP5 gene encoding FKBP51 are linked to psychiatric disorders. We sought to determine whether immunophilins are upregulated in HIV infection. To determine whether FKBP52 and FKBP51 are associated with MDD and/or HIV, we compared protein and gene expression in autopsy tissues from the frontal cortical gray matter. The study cases were divided into five groups: control, MDD, MDD with psychosis, HIV+, and HIV+ with MDD. Gene expression and protein levels were determined by real-time PCR and Western blot analysis of fresh frozen tissues. Genotyping of previously published alleles of the FKBP5 gene was also performed. We found correlation of upregulation of both immunophilins in the HIV-infected groups. In the HIV+ population with MDD, FKBP4 expression is significantly higher while FKBP5 is more variable. After analyzing the FKBP5 gene for single nucleotide polymorphisms, we found that rs3800373 CC genotype is more frequent in the MDD and MDD/Psychosis groups. We hypothesized that the levels of FKBP51, as modulator of the nuclear translocation of GR, would be lower in MDD. Instead, an increase in FKBP51 at both the transcript (FKBP5) and protein level correlated with MDD. Increased FKBP4 expression of correlated to HIV+MDD but not to HIV without MDD.
PMCID: PMC2929573  PMID: 19199039
HIV; immunophilins; major depressive disorder; glucocorticoid receptor
20.  Modulation of Glucocorticoid Receptor Nuclear Translocation in Neurons by Immunophilins FKBP51 and FKBP52: Implications for Major Depressive Disorder 
Brain research  2009;1286:1-12.
Mood disorders associated with dysfunction of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis are common psychiatric conditions. The glucocorticoid receptor (GR) is a steroid-activated nuclear receptor that, upon binding to cortisol, translocates to the nucleus where it targets genes related to neuronal metabolism and plasticity. In patients suffering from major depressive disorder (MDD), hypercortisolemia is a common finding. In the current study we investigated the molecular events associated with the FK506 binding proteins (FKBP) -52 and -51 response to cortisol exposure in neuronal cell cultures and their effect on GR translocation. We noted that FK506 altered nuclear localization of the GR and inhibited expression of GR-responsive genes. Furthermore, si-RNA knockdown of FKBP4 gene, coding for the immunophilin FKBP52, inhibited cortisol-activated GR nuclear translocation, while knockdown of FKBP5, coding for immunophilin FKBP51, was associated with increased baseline GR nuclear localization. We propose that immunophilins are modulators of the cortisol-HPA axis response to stress and related chronic brain disorders.
PMCID: PMC2724600  PMID: 19545546
Immunophilins; FKBP52; FKBP51; glucocorticoid receptor; fk506-binding proteins; nuclear translocation
21.  Short-term recognition memory impairment is associated with decreased expression of FK506 binding protein 51 in the aged mouse brain 
Age  2010;32(3):309-322.
Evidence suggests that increased glucocorticoid receptor (GR) signaling may contribute to cognitive decline with age. We hypothesized that alterations in GR signaling pathway molecules, FK506 binding protein (FKBP) 51 and FKBP52, were associated with memory impairment in aged mice. We used the single-trial object recognition test to measure short-term memory in 18 aged mice compared to 22 young mice, and employed quantitative immunohistochemistry to assess cellular expression of those three proteins in the frontal cortex, hippocampal CA1, and dentate gyrus. Values of the discrimination ratio (DR, a measure of novelty preference) in aged mice were significantly lower than those in young mice (mean 0.54 vs. 0.67, p = 0.003, t test). Aged mice with DR below 0.54 were considered impaired (n = 9). In the three neuroanatomic regions studied, the immunoreactivity normalized to the area measured (IRn) for GR was significantly increased in aged mice regardless of their task performance compared to young mice (p < 0.005), as was the FKBP52 IRn (p < 0.007, U test). In the frontal cortex and CA1, the FKBP51 IRn was significantly lower in impaired aged mice than in unimpaired aged mice (p < 0.01 and <0.05, respectively) and in young mice (p < 0.05 and <0.01, respectively, Dunn’s post hoc test). In aged mice, the frontal cortex FKBP51 IRn correlated directly with DR (rs = 0.68, p = 0.002, Spearman rank correlation). These observations suggest that recognition memory impairment in aged mice is associated with decreased FKBP51 expression that may promote GR-mediated glucocorticoid signaling to a greater extent than in unimpaired aged mice.
PMCID: PMC2926850  PMID: 20422297
Aging; Brain immunophilins; FKBP51; FKBP52; Glucocorticoid receptor signaling; Object recognition test
22.  Evidence for Alteration of Gene Regulatory Networks through MicroRNAs of the HIV-Infected Brain: Novel Analysis of Retrospective Cases 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(4):e10337.
HIV infection disturbs the central nervous system (CNS) through inflammation and glial activation. Evidence suggests roles for microRNA (miRNA) in host defense and neuronal homeostasis, though little is known about miRNAs' role in HIV CNS infection. MiRNAs are non-coding RNAs that regulate gene translation through post-transcriptional mechanisms. Messenger-RNA profiling alone is insufficient to elucidate the dynamic dance of molecular expression of the genome. We sought to clarify RNA alterations in the frontal cortex (FC) of HIV-infected individuals and those concurrently infected and diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD). This report is the first published study of large-scale miRNA profiling from human HIV-infected FC. The goals of this study were to: 1. Identify changes in miRNA expression that occurred in the frontal cortex (FC) of HIV individuals, 2. Determine whether miRNA expression profiles of the FC could differentiate HIV from HIV/MDD, and 3. Adapt a method to meaningfully integrate gene expression data and miRNA expression data in clinical samples. We isolated RNA from the FC (n = 3) of three separate groups (uninfected controls, HIV, and HIV/MDD) and then pooled the RNA within each group for use in large-scale miRNA profiling. RNA from HIV and HIV/MDD patients (n = 4 per group) were also used for non-pooled mRNA analysis on Affymetrix U133 Plus 2.0 arrays. We then utilized a method for integrating the two datasets in a Target Bias Analysis. We found miRNAs of three types: A) Those with many dysregulated mRNA targets of less stringent statistical significance, B) Fewer dysregulated target-genes of highly stringent statistical significance, and C) unclear bias. In HIV/MDD, more miRNAs were downregulated than in HIV alone. Specific miRNA families at targeted chromosomal loci were dysregulated. The dysregulated miRNAs clustered on Chromosomes 14, 17, 19, and X. A small subset of dysregulated genes had many 3′ untranslated region (3′UTR) target-sites for dysregulated miRNAs. We provide evidence that certain miRNAs serve as key elements in gene regulatory networks in HIV-infected FC and may be implicated in neurobehavioral disorder. Finally, our data indicates that some genes may serve as hubs of miRNA activity.
PMCID: PMC2859933  PMID: 20436668
23.  Molecular Pathology of Neuro-AIDS (CNS-HIV) 
The cognitive deficits in patients with HIV profoundly affect the quality of life of people living with this disease and have often been linked to the neuro-inflammatory condition known as HIV encephalitis (HIVE). With the advent of more effective anti-retroviral therapies, HIVE has shifted from a sub-acute to a chronic condition. The neurodegenerative process in patients with HIVE is characterized by synaptic and dendritic damage to pyramidal neurons, loss of calbindin-immunoreactive interneurons and myelin loss. The mechanisms leading to neurodegeneration in HIVE might involve a variety of pathways, and several lines of investigation have found that interference with signaling factors mediating neuroprotection might play an important role. These signaling pathways include, among others, the GSK3β, CDK5, ERK, Pyk2, p38 and JNK cascades. Of these, GSK3β has been a primary focus of many previous studies showing that in infected patients, HIV proteins and neurotoxins secreted by immune-activated cells in the brain abnormally activate this pathway, which is otherwise regulated by growth factors such as FGF. Interestingly, modulation of the GSK3β signaling pathway by FGF1 or GSK3β inhibitors (lithium, valproic acid) is protective against HIV neurotoxicity, and several pilot clinical trials have demonstrated cognitive improvements in HIV patients treated with GSK3β inhibitors. In addition to the GSK3β pathway, the CDK5 pathway has recently been implicated as a mediator of neurotoxicity in HIV, and HIV proteins might activate this pathway and subsequently disrupt the diverse processes that CDK5 regulates, including synapse formation and plasticity and neurogenesis. Taken together, the GSK3β and CDK5 signaling pathways are important regulators of neurotoxicity in HIV, and modulation of these factors might have therapeutic potential in the treatment of patients suffering from HIVE. In this context, the subsequent sections will focus on reviewing the involvement of the GSK3β and CDK5 pathways in neurodegeneration in HIV.
PMCID: PMC2672018  PMID: 19399237
HIV; encephalitis; NeuroAIDS; inflammation; GSK3β; CDK5

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