CB2 receptor agonists protect human dopaminergic neurons against damage from HIV-1 gp120.

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“The global pandemic of HIV infection currently afflicts 34 million individuals, has killed over 25 million people since 1981, and is the cause of death in an estimated 1.8 million people per year.

Despite the therapeutic impact of anti-retroviral therapy, HIV-1-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND) remains a serious threat to AIDS patients…

Synthetic cannabinoids inhibit HIV-1 expression in human microglia, suppress production of inflammatory mediators in human astrocytes, and there is substantial literature demonstrating the neuroprotective properties of cannabinoids in other neuropathogenic processes.

Based on these data, experiments were designed to test the hypothesis that synthetic cannabinoids will protect dopaminergic neurons against the toxic effects of the HIV-1 protein gp120. Using a human mesencephalic neuronal/glial culture model…

These data suggest that synthetic cannabinoids are capable of protecting human dopaminergic neurons from gp120 in a variety of ways, acting principally through the CB2 receptors and microglia.

Overall, this study confirms that gp120 is capable of damaging human dopaminergic neurons, that this damage involves human microglia, and that synthetic cannabinoids can alleviate this damage through mechanisms involving human microglia.

Thus, the results of these experiments set the stage for further studies designed to tease out the role human microglia have in the mechanisms underlying the toxic effects of HIV-1 on human dopaminergic neurons and understanding the microglial-centered mechanisms underlying the protective effects of selected synthetic cannabinoids.”


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