Methamphetamine Dysregulates Macrophage Functions and Autophagy to Mediate HIV Neuropathogenesis

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HIV-neurocognitive impairment (HIV-NCI) can be a debilitating condition for people with HIV (PWH), despite the success of antiretroviral therapy (ART). Substance use disorder is often a comorbidity with HIV infection. The use of methamphetamine (meth) increases systemic inflammation and CNS damage in PWH. Meth may also increase neuropathogenesis through the functional dysregulation of cells that harbor HIV. Perivascular macrophages are long-lived reservoirs for HIV in the CNS. The impaired clearance of extracellular debris and increased release of reactive oxygen species (ROS) by HIV-infected macrophages cause neurotoxicity. Macroautophagy is a vital intracellular pathway that can regulate, in part, these deleterious processes. We found in HIV-infected primary human macrophages that meth inhibits phagocytosis of aggregated amyloid-β, increases total ROS, and dysregulates autophagic processes. Treatment with widely prescribed ART drugs had minimal effects, although there may be an improvement in phagocytosis when co-administered with meth. Pharmacologically inhibited lysosomal degradation, but not induction of autophagy, further increased ROS in response to meth. Using mass spectrometry, we identified the differentially expressed proteins in meth-treated, HIV-infected macrophages that participate in phagocytosis, mitochondrial function, redox metabolism, and autophagy. Significantly altered proteins may be novel targets for interventional strategies that restore functional homeostasis in HIV-infected macrophages to improve neurocognition in people with HIV-NCI using meth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1257
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • ROS
  • autophagy
  • macrophage
  • methamphetamine
  • phagocytosis
  • proteomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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