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Open Access Research

HIV-1 Nef increases astrocyte sensitivity towards exogenous hydrogen peroxide

Sabine Masanetz1 and Michael H Lehmann12*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Virology, Technical University of Munich/Helmholtz Zentrum München, 81675 Munich, Germany

2 Institute for Infectious Diseases and Zoonoses, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, 80539 Munich, Germany

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Virology Journal 2011, 8:35  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-8-35

Published: 22 January 2011

Abstract

Background

HIV-1 infected individuals are under chronic exposure to reactive oxygen species (ROS) considered to be instrumental in the progression of AIDS and the development of HIV-1 associated dementia (HAD). Astrocytes support neuronal function and protect them against cytotoxic substances including ROS. The protein HIV-1 Nef, a progression factor in AIDS pathology is abundantly expressed in astrocytes in patients with HAD, and thus may influence its functions.

Results

Endogenous expressed HIV-1 Nef leads to increased sensitivity of human astrocytes towards exogenous hydrogen peroxide but not towards TNF-alpha. Cell death of nef-expressing astrocytes exposed to 10 μM hydrogen peroxide for 30 min occurred within 4 h.

Conclusion

HIV-1 Nef may contribute to neuronal dysfunction and the development of HAD by causing death of astrocytes through decreasing their tolerance for hydrogen peroxide.