Dopamine and its receptors play a role in the modulation of CCR5 expression in innate immune cells following exposure to Methamphetamine: Implications to HIV infection.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0199861
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infects cells in the Central Nervous System (CNS), where the access of antiretrovirals and antibodies that can kill the virus may be challenging. As a result of the early HIV entry in the brain, infected individuals develop inflammation and neurological deficits at various levels, which are aggravated by drugs of abuse. In the non-human primate model of HIV, we have previously shown that drugs of abuse such as Methamphetamine (Meth) increase brain viral load in correlation with a higher number of CCR5-expressing myeloid cells. CCR5 is a chemokine receptor that may be involved in increasing inflammation, but also, it is a co-receptor for viral entry into target cells. CCR5-expressing myeloid cells are the main targets of HIV in the CNS. Thus, the identification of factors and mechanisms that impact the expression of CCR5 in the brain is critical, as changes in CCR5 levels may affect the infection in the brain. Using a well-characterized in vitro system, with the THP1 human macrophage cell line, we have investigated the hypothesis that the expression of CCR5 is acutely affected by Meth, and examined pathways by which this effect could happen. We found that Meth plays a direct role by regulating the abundance and nuclear translocation of transcription factors with binding sites in the CCR5 promoter. However, we found that the main factor that modifies the CCR5 gene promoter at the epigenetic level towards transcription is Dopamine (DA), a neurotransmitter that is produced primarily in brain regions that are rich in dopaminergic neurons. In THP1 cells, the effect of DA on innate immune CCR5 transcription was mediated by DA receptors (DRDs), mainly DRD4. We also identified a role for DRD1 in suppressing CCR5 expression in this myeloid cell system, with potential implications for therapy. The effect of DA on innate immune CCR5 expression was also detectable on the cell surface during acute time-points, using low doses. In addition, HIV Tat acted by enhancing the surface expression of CCR5, in spite of its poor effect on transcription. Overall, our data suggests that the exposure of myeloid cells to Meth in the context of presence of HIV peptides such as Tat, may affect the number of HIV targets by modulating CCR5 expression, through a combination of DA-dependent and-independent mechanisms. Other drugs that increase DA may affect similar mechanisms. The implications of these epigenetic and translational mechanisms in enhancing HIV infection in the brain and elsewhere are demonstrated.