Chemokine CCL2 enhances NMDA receptor-mediated excitatory postsynaptic current in rat hippocampal slices-a potential mechanism for HIV-1-associated neuropathy?

J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2016 Jun;11(2):306-15. doi: 10.1007/s11481-016-9660-2. Epub 2016 Mar 11.


Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-infected mononuclear phagocytes (brain macrophages and microglial cells) release proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines. Elevated levels of chemokine CC motif ligand 2 (CCL2, known previously as monocyte chemoattractant protein-1) have been detected in serum and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of HIV-1-infected individuals and the raised CCL2 in the CSF correlates with HIV-1-associated neurocognitive disorders. To understand how elevated CCL2 induces HIV-1-associated neuropathy, we studied effects of CCL2 on excitatory postsynaptic current (EPSCs) in the CA1 region of rat hippocampal brain slices using whole-cell patch recording techniques. The AMPA receptor (AMPAR)-mediated EPSC (EPSCAMPAR) and N-Methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor (NMDAR)-mediated EPSCs (EPSCNMDAR) were isolated pharmacologically. Bath application of CCL2 produced a significant enhancement of the amplitudes of EPSCs, EPSCAMPAR and EPSCNMDAR. Further studies revealed that CCL2 potentiated NMDAR subtype NR2A-mediated EPSC (EPSCNR2AR) and NR2B-mediated EPSC (EPSCNR2BR). To determine the site of action, we recorded spontaneous mini EPSCs (mEPSC) before and during bath application of CCL2. Our results showed that CCL2 decreased inter event interval (IEI) and increased the frequency of mEPSCs without change on the amplitude, suggesting a presynaptic site of CCL2 action. CCL2 was also found to injure primary rat hippocampal neuronal cultures and neuronal dendrites in the CA1 region of hippocampal slices. The CCL2-associated neuronal and dendritic injuries were blocked by a specific NMDAR antagonist or by a CCR2 receptor antagonist, indicating that CCL2-associated neural injury was mediated via NMDARs and/or CCR2 receptors. Taken together, these results suggest a potential role CCL2 may play in HIV-1-associated neuropathology.

Keywords: CCL2; Chemokine; HIV-1-associated neuropathy; NMDA receptors, EPSCs, hippocampus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chemokine CCL2 / pharmacology*
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / drug effects
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology*
  • Female
  • HIV-1*
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Male
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / physiology*


  • Ccl2 protein, rat
  • Chemokine CCL2
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate