HIV-1 infects the brain and, despite antiretroviral therapy, many infected individuals suffer from HIV-1-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND). HAND is associated with dendritic simplification and synaptic loss. Prevention of synaptodendritic damage may ameliorate or forestall neurocognitive decline in latent HIV-1 infections. The HIV-1 transactivating protein (Tat) is produced during viral latency in the brain and may cause synaptodendritic damage. This study examined the integrity of the dendritic network after exposure to HIV-1 Tat by labeling filamentous actin (F-actin)-rich structures (puncta) in primary neuronal cultures. After 24 h of treatment, HIV-1 Tat was associated with the dendritic arbor and produced a significant reduction of F-actin-labeled dendritic puncta as well as loss of dendrites. Pre-treatment with either of two plant-derived phytoestrogen compounds (daidzein and liquiritigenin), significantly reduced synaptodendritic damage following HIV-1 Tat treatment. In addition, 6 days after HIV-1 Tat treatment, treatment with either daidzein, or liquiritigenin enhanced recovery, via the estrogen receptor, from HIV-1 Tat-induced synaptodendritic damage. These results suggest that either liquiritigenin or daidzein may not only attenuate acute synaptodendritic injury in HIV-1 but may also promote recovery from synaptodendritic damage.
The HIV-1 transactivating protein (Tat) is produced during viral latency in the brain. Treatment with either daidzein or liquiritigenin restored the loss of synaptic connectivity produced by HIV-1 Tat. This neurorestoration was mediated by estrogen receptors (ER). These results suggest that plant-derived phytoestrogens may promote recovery from HIV-1-induced synaptodendritic damage.