Despite important clinical benefits of the highly active antiretroviral therapy, neurological disorders affect approximately 50% of AIDS patients. In the brain, infected microglia release pro-inflammatory mediators as well as human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) proteins, like the envelope protein gp120, that sustain inflammation and mediate neuronal damage. Gp120 allows the virus entry in the host cells via binding to the CD4 receptor together with a specific co-receptor (CCR5/CXCR4). The antiretroviral drug maraviroc is a CCR5 receptor antagonist, approved for the treatment of HIV-experienced patients. By interfering with a chemokine receptor, highly expressed in microglia, maraviroc has the potential to modulate their activation during HIV-1 infection. To test this hypothesis, primary cultures of rat cortical microglia were activated by gp120. Gp120(CN54) , a protein derived by macrophage (M)-tropic viruses, showed strong pro-inflammatory action, thus it was used to test the effects of maraviroc. The latter displayed opposite effects, depending on whether or not interferon-γ (IFNγ) was also present in the system. IFNγ significantly enhanced gp120 proinflammatory activity, possibly via up-regulation of CCR5 receptor expression. In this experimental paradigm, maraviroc significantly increased microglial activation, thus suggesting that its chronic use can exacerbate neuronal pathology, especially in HIV-experienced patients with higher cerebral IFNγ levels.
© 2011 The Authors. Journal of Neurochemistry © 2011 International Society for Neurochemistry.