Involvement of interleukin-1β in the mechanism of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) recombinant protein gp120-induced apoptosis in the neocortex of rat

G. Bagetta, M. T. Corasaniti, L. Berliocchi, R. Nisticó, A. M. Giammarioli, W. Malorni, L. Aloe, A. Finazzi-Agró

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effect of subchronic intracerebroventricular injection of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) recombinant protein gp120 (100 ng, given daily for up to seven consecutive days) on interleukin-1β expression was studied by immunohistochemistry in the brain of adult rats. In comparison to control, bovine serum albumin (300 ng, given intracerebroventricularly for up to seven days) -treated animals (n = 6), interleukin-1β immunoreactivity increased in the brain cortex and hippocampus of rats (n = 6) receiving a single injection of the viral protein 24 h before analysis with more substantial increases being observed in these regions of the brain (n = 6) after seven days treatment. Double-labelling immunofluorescence experiments support a neuronal and, possibly, a microglial cell origin for gp120-enhanced interleukin-1β expression. Transmission electron microscopy analysis of brain tissue sections revealed that combination treatments (given intracerebroventricularly daily for seven days) with gp120 (100 ng) and interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (80 ng) or with the interleukin converting enzyme inhibitor II (100 pmol), but not with leupeptin (100 pmol), prevented apoptotic death of rat (n = 6/group) brain cortical cells typically elicited by the viral protein. These data demonstrate that gp120 enhances interleukin- 1β expression in the brain and this may be involved in the mechanism underlying apoptosis induced by gp120 in the brain cortex of rat. Further support to this hypothesis comes from the evidence that intracerebroventricular injection of murine recombinant interleukin-1β (200 U, given daily for seven consecutive days) produces DNA fragmentation in the brain cortex of rat (n = 6). Interestingly, the latter treatment enhanced nerve growth factor level in the hippocampus but not in the cerebral cortex and this coincides with a similar effect recently reported in identical brain areas of rats treated likewise with gp120. In conclusion, the present data demonstrate that treatment with gp120 enhances interleukin-1β expression and this participates in the mechanism of apoptotic cell death in the brain cortex of rat. By contrast, in the hippocampus, gp120-enhanced interleukin- 1β expression elevates nerve growth factor that may prevent or delay apoptosis in this plastic region of the rat brain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1051-1066
Number of pages16
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Apoptosis
  • HIV-1 gp120 coat protein
  • IL-1β
  • NGF
  • Nitric oxide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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