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HIV is a 'double hit' to the brain
Date:8/15/2007

could be triggered by gp120the viral coat protein that latches onto human cellseven in the absence of any viral infection. They also showed that the protein disrupts a key cell-cycle pathway (including p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase or MAPK), leading to the death of certain mature neurons.

The researchers now find that gp120 in mice also slows the production of new neurons in the hippocampus, a brain region central to learning and memory. Newborn neurons become integrated into existing brain circuits and are thought to contribute to certain forms of learning and memory, they said.

Moreover, they found that it is the same MAPK pathway earlier linked to the death of mature neurons that lies at the root of the progenitor cells dysfunction. That a similar enzyme is involved in both brain-damaging effects is simply serendipitous, according to the researchers.

Knowing the mechanism, we can start to approach this therapeutically, Lipton said. This indicates that we might eventually treat this form of dementia by either ramping up brain repair or protecting the repair mechanism, Kaul added.


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Contact: Nancy Wampler
nwampler@cell.com
617-386-2121
Cell Press
Source:Eurekalert

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