Regulation of glutathione and cell toxicity following exposure to neurotropic substances and human immunodeficiency virus-1 in vitro

J Neurovirol. 1997 Oct;3(5):342-9. doi: 10.3109/13550289709030748.


The aim of the present study was to assess the toxic potential of drugs of abuse and other neuropharmacological agents in the pathogenesis of AIDS dementia complex (ADC), the neurological complication of AIDS. Neuroblastoma and glioblastoma cell lines expressing the dopamine transporter, as well as primary macrophages exposed to human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1), were used to investigate the possibility of any synergistic effect between the mode of toxicity of such substances and virus exposure. The drugs of abuse used in our experiments were cocaine and morphine, which exert their action, among others, on the dopaminergic system. Effects were compared to treatment with dopamine itself and a typical dopaminergic drug used pharmaceutically, selegiline. In macrophage cultures, glutathione (GSH) was upregulated strongly after treatment with dopamine, morphine or selegiline, and this effect was enhanced when cells were pre-exposed to virus. This upregulation is discussed as a compensatory reaction to an oxidative signal. When hydrogen peroxide plus iron sulfate was used as a strong oxidant in macrophages, GSH concentrations decreased as a result of cell injury. Cell numbers remained constant in all treatment groups. In contrast, in both neuroblastoma and glioblastoma cell lines, the modulation of GSH concentrations by neurotropic substances was accompanied by significant cell loss, which was exacerbated by HIV-1 pretreatment. Selegiline did not change cell numbers when incubated alone. However, when incubated following treatment with HIV-1 cell death was highly significant. Ascorbic acid (AA), included as antioxidant, totally restored cell loss in cultures treated with dopamine. However, no effect was observed in combined treatment of AA and morphine or selegiline. The results demonstrate a synergistic role in cellular toxicity due to neurotropic substances and HIV-1, and suggest that neuropharmacological agents may contribute to the pathogenesis of ADC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Dementia Complex / etiology*
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Survival
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cocaine / pharmacology
  • Disease Progression
  • Dopamine / pharmacology
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Glutathione / physiology*
  • HIV-1 / pathogenicity*
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / cytology
  • Macrophages / drug effects
  • Macrophages / virology
  • Membrane Glycoproteins*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins*
  • Morphine / pharmacology
  • Narcotics / pharmacology
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins*
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Selegiline / pharmacology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Up-Regulation


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Narcotics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Selegiline
  • Morphine
  • Glutathione
  • Cocaine
  • Dopamine