Insulin-like growth factor-I-forkhead box O transcription factor 3a counteracts high glucose/tumor necrosis factor-α-mediated neuronal damage: implications for human immunodeficiency virus encephalitis

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Journal of Neuroscience Research


In HIV patients, antiretroviral medications trigger metabolic abnormalities, including insulin resistance. In addition, the inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα), which is elevated in human immunodeficiency virus encephalitis (HIVE), also induces insulin resistance and inflicts neuronal damage in vitro. In differentiated PC12 cells and rat cortical neurons, high glucose (HG; 25 mM) triggers reactive oxygen species (ROS) accumulation, contributing to the retraction of neuronal processes, with only a minimal involvement of neuronal apoptosis. In the presence of TNFα, HG-treated neurons undergo massive apoptosis. Because mammalian homolog of the Forkhead family of transcription factors, Forkhead box O transcription factor 3a (FOXO3a), controls ROS metabolism, we asked whether FOXO3a could affect the fate of differentiated neurons in the paradigm of HIVE. We observed FOXO3a nuclear translocation in HG-treated neuronal cultures, accompanied by partial loss of mitochondrial potential and gradual retraction of neuronal processes. Addition of TNFα to HG-treated neurons increased expression of the FOXO-dependent proapoptotic gene Bim, which resulted in extensive apoptotic death. Insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) significantly lowered intracellular ROS, which was accompanied by IGF-I-mediated FOXO3a nuclear export and decrease in its transcriptional activity. The clinical relevance of these findings is supported by detection of nuclear FOXO3a in TUNEL-positive cortical neurons from HIVE, especially in brain areas characterized by elevated TNFα.

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