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Extensive astrocyte infection is prominent in human immunodeficiency virus-associated dementia.

Churchill MJ, Wesselingh SL, Cowley D, Pardo CA, McArthur JC, Brew BJ, Gorry PR

  • Journal Annals of neurology

  • Published 01 Oct 2009

  • Volume 66

  • ISSUE 2

  • Pagination 253-8

  • DOI 10.1002/ana.21697


Astrocyte infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is considered rare, so astrocytes are thought to play a secondary role in HIV neuropathogenesis. By combining double immunohistochemistry, laser capture microdissection, and highly sensitive multiplexed polymerase chain reaction to detect HIV DNA in single astrocytes in vivo, we showed that astrocyte infection is extensive in subjects with HIV-associated dementia, occurring in up to 19% of GFAP+ cells. In addition, astrocyte infection frequency correlated with the severity of neuropathological changes and proximity to perivascular macrophages. Our data indicate that astrocytes can be extensively infected with HIV, and suggest an important role for HIV-infected astrocytes in HIV neuropathogenesis.