The dopamine (DA)-rich midbrain is known to be a key target of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1. Studies of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-induced neuropathogenesis recently established that there is a major disruption within the nigrostriatal dopaminergic system characterized by marked depletion of dopaminergic neurons, microglial cell activation, and reactive astrocytes. Using a human mesencephalic neuronal/glial culture model, which contains dopaminergic neurons, microglia, and astrocytes, experiments were performed to characterize the damage to dopaminergic neurons induced by HIV-1 gp120. Functional impairment was assessed by DA uptake, and neurotoxicity was measured by apoptosis and oxidative damage. Through the use of this mesencephalic neuronal/glial culture model, we were able to identify the relative sensitivity of dopaminergic neurons to gp120-induced damage, manifested as reduced function (decreased DA uptake), morphological changes, and reduced viability. We also showed that gp120-induced oxidative damage is involved in this neuropathogenic process.
- Oxidative stress