Neuroscience letters 2017 09 05() pii 10.1016/j.neulet.2017.09.005
Neuron-Glia crosstalk is essential for efficient synaptic communication, cell growth and differentiation, neuronal activity, neurotransmitter recycling, and brain immune response. The master regulators of this neuron-glia communication are connexin containing Gap Junctions (GJs) and Hemichannels (HCs) as well as pannexin HCs. However, the role of these channels under pathological conditions, especially in infectious diseases is still in exploratory stages. Human Immunodeficiency Virus-1 (HIV) is one such infectious agent that takes advantage of the host intercellular communication systems, GJs and HCs, to exacerbate viral pathogenesis in the brain in spite of the antiretroviral therapy effectively controlling viral replication in the periphery. Although most infectious agents lead to total "shutdown" of gap junctional communication in parenchymal cells, HIV infection maintains and "hijacks" GJs and HCs to enable few infected cells to spread toxic intracellular agents to neighboring uninfected cells aggravating viral neuropathology even in the absence of viral replication. In this mini-review, we present a comprehensive overview of the role of GJs and HCs in augmenting HIV neuropathogenesis.