Cocaine potentiates cathepsin B secretion and neuronal apoptosis from HIV-infected macrophages.

Research paper by Frances F Zenón, Annabell C AC Segarra, Mariangeline M Gonzalez, Loyda M LM Meléndez

Indexed on: 12 Sep '14Published on: 12 Sep '14Published in: Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology


Substance abuse is a risk factor for HIV infection and progression to AIDS. Recent evidence establishes that cocaine use promotes brain perivascular macrophage infiltration and microglia activation. The lysosomal protease cathepsin B is increased in monocytes from patients with HIV dementia and its secretion induces 10-15% of neurotoxicity. Here we asked if cocaine potentiates cathepsin B secretion from HIV-infected monocyte-derived macrophages (MDM) and its effect in neuronal apoptosis. Samples of plasma, CSF, and post-mortem brain tissue from HIV positive patients that used cocaine were tested for cathepsin B and its inhibitors to determine the in vivo relevance of these findings. MDM were inoculated with HIV-1ADA, exposed to cocaine, and the levels of secreted and bioactive cathepsin B and its inhibitors were measured at different time-points. Cathepsin B expression (p < 0.001) and activity (p < 0.05) increased in supernatants from HIV-infected cocaine treated MDM compared with HIV-infected cocaine negative controls. Increased levels of cystatin B expression was also found in supernatants from HIV-cocaine treated MDM (p < 0.05). A significant increase in 30% of apoptotic neurons was obtained that decreased to 5% with the specific cathepsin B inhibitor (CA-074) or with cathepsin B antibody. Cathepsin B was significantly increased in the plasma and post-mortem brain tissue of HIV/cocaine users over non-drug users. Our results demonstrated that cocaine potentiates cathepsin B secretion in HIV-infected MDM and increase neuronal apoptosis. These findings provide new evidence that cocaine synergize with HIV-1 infection in increasing cathepsin B secretion and neurotoxicity.