U50488 inhibits HIV-1 expression in acutely infected monocyte-derived macrophages

Chun C. Chao, Genya Gekker, Wen Sheng, Shuxian Hu, Phillip K. Peterson

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20 Scopus citations


Opioids may play an immunomodulatory role in the pathogenesis of human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) infection. Recently, synthetic κ-opioid receptor (KOR) ligands have been found to have anti-human immunodeficiency virus type 1 activity in acutely infected brain macrophages. In the present study, we investigated whether the selective KOR ligand U50488 would exert such an anti-HIV-1 effect in acutely infected blood monocyte-derived macrophages (MDM). Treatment of acutely infected MDM with U50488 induced a concentration-dependent inhibition of HIV-1 expression. The dose-response relationship of U50488 was U-shaped with a peak effect observed at 10-13 M, which was evident at both 7 and 14 days post-infection. The KOR antagonist nor-binaltorphimine blocked the anti-HIV-1 effect of U50488 by 73%, indicating involvement of a KOR-mediated mechanism. Also, expression of KOR mRNA and binding activity with a fluorescence-labeled KOR ligand supported the existence of KOR on MDM. Antibodies to the β-chemokine, RANTES (regulated on activation normal T-cell expressed and secreted), but not to various other cytokines, blocked U50488 inhibition by 56% suggesting that the anti-HIV-1 effect of U50488 involved, in part, the production of RANTES by MDM. Taken together, these in vitro findings support the anti-HIV-1 property of U50488, and suggest that KOR ligands may have therapeutic potential for treating patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-154
Number of pages6
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2001


  • Immunobiology
  • Macrophages
  • U50,488
  • κ-Opioid receptors

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