HIV-1-associated dementia (HAD)-relevant proinflammatory cytokines robustly induce astrocyte tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-1 (TIMP-1). As TIMP-1 displays pleotropic functions, we hypothesized that TIMP-1 expression may serve as a neuroprotective response of astrocytes. Previously, we reported that chronically activated astrocytes fail to maintain elevated TIMP-1 expression, and TIMP-1 levels are lower in the brain of HAD patients; a phenomenon that may contribute to central nervous system pathogenesis. Further, the role of TIMP-1 as a neurotrophic factor is incompletely understood. In this study, we report that staurosporine (STS) and HIV-1ADA virus, both led to induction of apoptosis in cultured primary human neurons. Interestingly, cotreatment with TIMP-1 protects neurons from apoptosis and reverses neuronal morphological changes induced by these toxins. Further, the anti-apoptotic effect was not observed with TIMP-2 or -3, but was retained in a mutant of the N-terminal TIMP-1 protein with threonine-2 mutated to glycine (T2G) that is deficient in matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-1, -2 and -3 inhibitory activity. Therefore, the mechanism is specific to TIMP-1 and partially independent of MMP-inhibition. Additionally, TIMP-1 modulates the Bcl-2 family of proteins and inhibits opening of mitochondrial permeability transition pores induced by HIV-1 or STS. Together, these findings describe a novel function, mechanism and direct role of TIMP-1 in neuroprotection, suggesting its therapeutic potential in HAD and possibly in other neurodegenerative diseases.
- HIV-1-associated dementia
- tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-1