Increased peroxynitrite activity in AIDS dementia complex: implications for the neuropathogenesis of HIV-1 infection

J Immunol. 1999 Apr 1;162(7):4319-27.


Oxidative stress is suggested to be involved in several neurodegenerative diseases. One mechanism of oxidative damage is mediated by peroxynitrite, a neurotoxic reaction product of superoxide anion and nitric oxide. Expression of two cytokines and two key enzymes that are indicative of the presence of reactive oxygen intermediates and peroxynitrite was investigated in brain tissue of AIDS patients with and without AIDS dementia complex and HIV-seronegative controls. RNA expression of IL-1beta, IL-10, inducible nitric oxide synthase, and superoxide dismutase (SOD) was found to be significantly higher in demented compared with nondemented patients. Immunohistochemical analysis showed that SOD was expressed in CD68-positive microglial cells while inducible nitric oxide synthase was detected in glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP)-positive astrocytes and in equal amounts in microglial cells. Approximately 70% of the HIV p24-Ag-positive macrophages did express SOD, suggesting a direct HIV-induced intracellular event. HIV-1 infection of macrophages resulted in both increased superoxide anion production and elevated SOD mRNA levels, compared with uninfected macrophages. Finally, we show that nitrotyrosine, the footprint of peroxynitrite, was found more intense and frequent in brain sections of demented patients compared with nondemented patients. These results indicate that, as a result of simultaneous production of superoxide anion and nitric oxide, peroxynitrite may contribute to the neuropathogenesis of HIV-1 infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Dementia Complex / etiology*
  • AIDS Dementia Complex / metabolism*
  • AIDS Dementia Complex / pathology
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / enzymology
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / metabolism
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / pathology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain Chemistry
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / enzymology
  • HIV Infections / metabolism*
  • HIV Infections / pathology
  • HIV-1 / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Interleukin-1 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-1 / genetics
  • Interleukin-10 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-10 / genetics
  • Macrophages / enzymology
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Macrophages / virology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nitrates / metabolism*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / biosynthesis
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / genetics
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Superoxide Dismutase / biosynthesis
  • Superoxide Dismutase / genetics
  • Superoxides / metabolism
  • Tyrosine / analogs & derivatives
  • Tyrosine / analysis


  • Interleukin-1
  • Nitrates
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Superoxides
  • Interleukin-10
  • peroxynitric acid
  • 3-nitrotyrosine
  • Tyrosine
  • NOS2 protein, human
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • Superoxide Dismutase