Congratulations Dr. Melendez!

HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders prevail in 20–50 percent of infected individuals. Macrophages transmigrate through the blood brain barrier during HIV-1 infection, triggering neuronal dysfunction. HIV-infected macrophages secrete cathepsin B (CATB), and serum amyloid p component (SAPC), inducing neuronal apoptosis by an unknown mechanism. We hypothesized that HIV infection facilitates CATB/SAPC secretion from macrophages followed by neuronal internalization, promoting dysfunction. SK-N-SH neuronal cells were exposed to active recombinant histidine-tagged cathepsin B (His-CATB). His-CATB entry was tracked by intracellular fow cytometry, and neuronal dysfunction was verifed by western blot. Macrophage-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) were tested for the presence of CATB and SAPC. Neurons internalized His-CATB, an efect that was partially decreased by pre-treatment with anti-CATB antibody. Pre-treatment with CATB and SAPC antibodies decreased cleavage of caspase-3 and restored synaptophysin in neurons. Neurons exposed to macrophage-conditioned media diferentially internalized His-CATB, dependent on the HIV replication levels. Finally, CATB and SAPC were secreted in EVs. We report for the frst time that CATB is secreted from macrophages both free and in EVs, and is internalized by neurons. Moreover, HIV-replication levels modulate the amount of CATB neuronal uptake, and neuronal dysfunction can be decreased with CATB antibodies. In conclusion, the CATB/SAPC complex represents a novel target against HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders.