Background: The abuse of psychostimulants such as methamphetamine (METH) is
common in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected individuals. Acquired immunodeficiency
syndrome (AIDS) patients taking METH and antiretroviral drugs could suffer severe neurologic
damage and cognitive impairment.
Objective: To reveal the underlying neuropathologic mechanisms of an HIV protease inhibitor (PI)
combined with METH, growth-inhibition tests of dopaminergic cells and RNA sequencing were performed.
Methods: A combination of METH and PI caused more growth inhibition of dopaminergic cells
than METH alone or a PI alone. Furthermore, we identified differentially expressed gene (DEG) patterns
in the METH vs. untreated cells (1161 genes), PI vs. untreated cells (16 genes), METH-PI vs.
PI (3959 genes), and METH-PI vs. METH groups (14 genes).
Results: The DEGs in the METH-PI co-treatment group were verified in the brains of a mouse
model using quantitative polymerase chain reaction and were involved mostly in the regulatory functions
of cell proliferation and inflammation.
Conclusion: Such identification of key regulatory genes could facilitate the study of their neuroprotective
potential in the users of METH and PIs.