Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection of brain macrophages and astroglial proliferation are central features of HIV-induced central nervous system (CNS) disorders. These observations suggest that glial cellular interactions participate in disease. In an experimental system to examine this process, we found that cocultures of HIV-infected monocytes and astroglia release high levels of cytokines and arachidonate metabolites leading to neuronotoxicity. HIV-1ADA-infected monocytes cocultured with human glia (astrocytoma, neuroglia, and primary human astrocytes) synthesized tumor necrosis factor (TNF-alpha) and interleukin 1 beta (IL-1 beta) as assayed by coupled reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and biological activity. The cytokine induction was selective, cell specific, and associated with induction of arachidonic acid metabolites. TNF-beta, IL-1 alpha, IL-6, interferon alpha (IFN-alpha), and IFN-gamma were not produced. Leukotriene B4, leukotriene D4, lipoxin A4, and platelet-activating factor were detected in large amounts after high-performance liquid chromatography separation and correlated with cytokine activity. Specific inhibitors of the arachidonic cascade markedly diminished the cytokine response suggesting regulatory relationships between these factors. Cocultures of HIV-infected monocytes and neuroblastoma or endothelial cells, or HIV-infected monocyte fluids, sucrose gradient-concentrated viral particles, and paraformaldehyde-fixed or freeze-thawed HIV-infected monocytes placed onto astroglia failed to induce cytokines and neuronotoxins. This demonstrated that viable monocyte-astroglia interactions were required for the cell reactions. The addition of actinomycin D or cycloheximide to the HIV-infected monocytes before coculture reduced, > 2.5-fold, the levels of TNF-alpha. These results, taken together, suggest that the neuronotoxicity associated with HIV central nervous system disorders is mediated, in part, through cytokines and arachidonic acid metabolites, produced during cell-to-cell interactions between HIV-infected brain macrophages and astrocytes.

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