HIV-1 gp120 protein promotes HAND through the calcineurin pathway activation

Mitochondrion. 2023 May:70:31-40. doi: 10.1016/j.mito.2023.03.003. Epub 2023 Mar 15.


For over two decades, highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) was able to help prolong the life expectancy of people living with HIV-1 (PLWH) and eliminate the virus to an undetectable level. However, an increased prevalence of HIV- associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) was observed. These symptoms range from neuronal dysfunction to cell death. Among the markers of neuronal deregulation, we cite the alteration of synaptic plasticity and neuronal communications. Clinically, these dysfunctions led to neurocognitive disorders such as learning alteration and loss of spatial memory, which promote premature brain aging even in HAART-treated patients. In support of these observations, we showed that the gp120 protein deregulates miR-499-5p and its downstream target, the calcineurin (CaN) protein. The gp120 protein also promotes the accumulation of calcium (Ca2+) and reactive oxygen species (ROS) inside the neurons leading to the activation of CaN and the inhibition of miR-499-5p. gp120 protein also caused mitochondrial fragmentation and changes in shape and size. The use of mimic miR-499 restored mitochondrial functions, appearance, and size. These results demonstrated the additional effect of the gp120 protein on neurons through the miR-499-5p/calcineurin pathway.

Keywords: Calcineurin; Fusion/Fission; HIV-1 gp120; Neurodegenerative disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Brain / metabolism
  • Calcineurin / metabolism
  • Calcineurin / pharmacology
  • Cell Death
  • HIV Infections*
  • HIV-1* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs* / genetics
  • MicroRNAs* / metabolism


  • Calcineurin
  • MicroRNAs