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Neuroprotective mechanisms of nevirapine and efavirenz in a model of neurodegeneration

by Zheve, G. T.

Abstract (Summary)
AIDS Dementia Complex (ADC) is a neurodegenerative disorder implicated in HIV-1 infection that is associated with elevated levels of the neurotoxin, quinolinic acid (QA) which causes a cascade of events to occur, leading to the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), these being ultimately responsible for oxidative neurotoxicity. In clinical studies, Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs), efavirenz (EFV) and nevirapine (NVP) have been shown to potentially delay the progressive degeneration of neurons, thus reducing the frequency and neurological deficits associated with ADC. Despite these neuroprotective implications, there is still no biochemical data to demonstrate the mechanisms through which these agents offer neuroprotection. The present study aims to elucidate and further characterize the possible antioxidant and neuroprotective mechanisms of NVP and EFV in vitro and in vivo, using QA-induced neurotoxicity as a model. Research has demonstrated that antioxidants and metal chelators have the ability to offer neuroprotection against free radical induced injury and may be beneficial in the prevention or treatment of neurodegeneration. Hence the antioxidant and metal binding properties of these agents were investigated respectively. Inorganic studies, including the 1, 1-diphenyl-2 picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) assay, show that these agents readily scavenge free radicals in vitro, thus postulating the antioxidant property of these agents. The enhancement of superoxide radical generation and iron mediated Fenton reaction by QA is related to lipid peroxidation in biological systems, the extent of which was assayed using the nitroblue tetrazolium and thiobarbituric acid method respectively. Both agents significantly curtail QA-induced lipid peroxidation and potentially scavenge superoxide anions generated by cyanide in vitro. Furthermore, in vivo results demonstrate the ability of NVP and EFV to protect hippocampal neurons against lipid peroxidation induced by QA and superoxide radicals generated as a consequence thereof. The alleviation of QA-induced oxidative stress in vitro possibly occurs through the binding of iron (II) and / or iron (III), and this argument is further strengthened by the ability of EFV and not NVP to reduce iron (II)-induced lipid peroxidation in vitro directly. In addition the ferrozine and electrochemistry assay were used to measure the extent of iron (II) Fe[superscript 2+] and iron (III) Fe[superscript 3+] chelation activity. Both assays demonstrate that these agents bind iron (II) and iron (III), and prevent redox recycling of iron and subsequent complexation of Fe[superscript 2+] with QA which enhances neuronal damage. Both NNRTIs inhibit the endogenous biosynthesis of QA by inhibiting liver tryptophan 2, 3-dioxygenase activity in vivo and subsequently increasing hippocampal serotonin levels. Furthermore, these agents reduce the turnover of hippocampal serotonin to 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid. NVP and not EFV increase 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid and norepinephrine levels in the hippocampus. The results of the pineal indole metabolism study show that NVP increases the synthesis of melatonin, but decreases N-acetylserotonin, 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid and 5-hydroxytryptophol levels. Furthermore, it shows that EFV decreases 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid and melatonin synthesis. Behavioural studies using a Morris water maze show that the post-treatment of rats with NVP and EFV significantly improves QA-induced spatial memory deficits in the hippocampus. This study therefore provides novel information regarding the neuroprotective mechanisms of NVP and EFV. These findings strengthen the argument that these NNRTIs not only have antiviral effects but possess potential neuroprotective properties, which may contribute to the effectiveness of these drugs in the treatment of ADC.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Rhodes University

School Location:South Africa

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:faculty of pharmacy

ISBN:

Date of Publication:01/01/2008

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