Platelet Activation in Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type-1 Patients Is Not Altered with Cocaine Abuse

Recent work has indicated that platelets, which are anucleate blood cells, significantly contribute to inflammatory disorders. Importantly, platelets also likely contribute to various inflammatory secondary disorders that are increasingly associated with Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type-1 (HIV) infection including neurological impairments and cardiovascular complications. Indeed, HIV infection is often associated with increased levels of platelet activators. Additionally, cocaine, a drug commonly abused by HIV-infected individuals, leads to increased platelet activation in humans. Considering that orchestrated signaling mechanisms are essential for platelet activation, and that nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) inhibitors can alter platelet function, the role of NF-κB signaling in platelet activation during HIV infection warrants further investigation. Here we tested the hypothesis that inhibitory kappa B kinase complex (IKK) activation would be central for platelet activation induced by HIV and cocaine. Whole blood from HIV-positive and HIV-negative individuals, with or without cocaine abuse was used to assess platelet activation via flow cytometry whereas IKK activation was analyzed by performing immunoblotting and in vitro kinase assays. We demonstrate that increased platelet activation in HIV patients, as measured by CD62P expression, is not altered with reported cocaine use. Furthermore, cocaine and HIV do not activate platelets in whole blood when treated ex vivo. Finally, HIV-induced platelet activation does not involve the NF-κB signaling intermediate, IKKβ. Platelet activation in HIV patients is not altered with cocaine abuse. These results support the notion that non-IKK targeting approaches will be better suited for the treatment of HIV-associated inflammatory disorders.