HIV-1 associated dementia (HAD) is due in part to aberrant activation of brain resident macrophages and microglial cells by viral proteins, causing neuronal dysfunction and death over time. We hypothesize that CD40 signaling in microglia and in brain microvascular endothelial cells (BMVEC) may synergize with the effects of candidate HIV-1 neurotoxins, such as Tat or platelet activating facotr (PAF), and play a pivotal role in HAD. We will investigate this in three specific aims.
In Aim 1, we will analyze synergistic effects of candidate HIV-1 neurotoxins and CD40 engagement on inflammatory gene expression in human macrophages and microglial cells, by examining signaling mechanisms associated with CD40 engagement, including analyses of the anti- inflammatory effects of NF-KB inhibitors, minocycline and glitazones.
In Aim 2, we will examine the role of CD40 engagement in monocyte adhesion and migration through an artificial BBB in response to HIV-1 neurotoxins, by determining specific signaling events that lead to increased expression of adhesion and inflammatory molecules in human BMVEC. Additionally, we will determine whether down-modulation of CD40 expression, following CD40-specific RNA interference or exposure to pharamcologic inhibitors (statins), antagonizes cellular migration through BBB. Finally, in Aim 3, we will use CD40 KO mice, CD40L KO mice or wild-type mice treated with a monoclonal antibody specific for mouse CD40L that disrupts CD40-CD40L interaction, to investigate whether the interplay between CD40- and HIV-1 neurotoxin-mediated signaling also contributes to the CMS inflammation and impaired synaptic transmission in vivo. Collectively, these investigations will identify novel therapeutic strategies that may enhance neuronal function and survival in neuroAIDS.
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