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Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and viral proteins affect neuronal survival and neuron-glial cell interactions, which culminate in neurological disorders. HIV-1 infects regions of neurogenesis in human adult and pediatric brain. However, little is known about the effect of HIV-1 or viral proteins on the properties of human neural precursor cells (hNPCs), particularly neurogenesis, hence a detailed investigation on these lines is warranted. Human neural precursor cells were cultured in presence and absence of HIV-1B transactivating protein Tat to investigate if HIV-1 viral protein alters the properties of human neural precursor cells. Cellular and molecular approaches were adopted to study the effect of HIV-1B transactivating protein Tat on proliferation and differentiation potential of human fetal brain-derived NPCs. Cell proliferation assays such as BrdU and Ki67 staining and pathway-specific cDNA and protein arrays were used in the study. Data reveal that HIV-1B Tat protein severely affects proliferation of hNPCs, as evident by lower incorporation of BrdU and Ki67 staining as well as neurosphere assay. HIV-1 Tat substantially attenuated neurogenesis, as evident by the smaller numbers of Tuj-1- and doublecortin-positive cells differentiated from hNPCs, without affecting their viability. These data suggest that HIV-1 Tat alters the properties of human neural precursor cells via attenuation of the cell cycle regulatory unit cyclin D1 and the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway, particularly extracellular signal-related kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2). The study provides new insights into cellular and molecular mechanisms that may modulate human neural precursor cell properties in HIV/AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) individuals. Validation with autopsy brain samples is necessary to further substantiate these important observations.

Original publication




Journal article


J Neurovirol

Publication Date





355 - 367


AIDS Dementia Complex, Brain, Cells, Cultured, Cyclin D1, Down-Regulation, HIV-1, Humans, Neural Stem Cells, Neurogenesis, Recombinant Proteins, tat Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus