Morphine enhances HIV-1SF162-mediated neuron death and delays recovery of injured neurites.
HIV-1 enters the CNS soon after initial systemic infection; within the CNS parenchyma infected and/or activated perivascular macrophages, microglia and astrocytes release viral and cellular toxins that drive secondary toxicity in neurons and other cell types. Our previous work has largely modeled HIV-neuropathology using the individual viral proteins Tat or gp120, with murine striatal neurons as targets. To model disease processes more closely, the current study uses supernatant from HIV-1-infected cells. Supernatant from HIV-1SF162-infected differentiated-U937 cells (HIV+sup) was collected and p24 level was measured by ELISA to assess the infection. Injection drug abuse is a significant risk factor for HIV-infection, and opiate drug abusers show increased HIV-neuropathology, even with anti-retroviral treatments. We therefore assessed HIV+sup effects on neuronal survival and neurite growth/pruning with or without concurrent exposure to morphine, an opiate that preferentially acts through µ-opioid receptors. Effects of HIV+sup ± morphine were assessed on neuronal populations, and also by time-lapse imaging of individual cells. HIV+sup caused dose-dependent toxicity over a range of p24 levels (10-500 pg/ml). Significant interactions occurred with morphine at lower p24 levels (10 and 25 pg/ml), and GSK3β was implicated as a point of convergence. In the presence of glia, selective neurotoxic measures were significantly enhanced and interactions with morphine were also augmented, perhaps related to a decreased level of BDNF. Importantly, the arrest of neurite growth that occurred with exposure to HIV+sup was reversible unless neurons were continuously exposed to morphine. Thus, while reducing HIV-infection levels may be protective, ongoing exposure to opiates may limit recovery. Opiate interactions observed in this HIV-infective environment were similar, though not entirely concordant, with Tat/gp120 interactions reported previously, suggesting unique interactions with virions or other viral or cellular proteins released by infected and/or activated cells.
PLoS One. 2014 Jun 20;9(6):e100196. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0100196. eCollection 2014.