Science in China Series C: Life Sciences

, Volume 52, Issue 7, pp 651–656

High level HIV-1 DNA concentrations in brain tissues differentiate patients with post-HAART AIDS dementia complex or cardiovascular disease from those with AIDS


  • Li Zhao
    • Department of Laboratory Science of Virology, School of Public HealthShandong University
  • Derek C. Galligan
    • Department of Laboratory Medicine, Positive Health ProgramUniversity of California
  • Susanna L. Lamers
    • Gene Johnson Inc.
  • Stephanie Yu
    • Pathologica Inc.
  • Lamia Shagrun
    • Department of Laboratory Medicine, Positive Health ProgramUniversity of California
  • Marco Salemi
    • Department of Pathology, Immunology, and Laboratory MedicineUniversity of Florida
    • Department of Laboratory Medicine, Positive Health ProgramUniversity of California

DOI: 10.1007/s11427-009-0085-5

Cite this article as:
Zhao, L., Galligan, D.C., Lamers, S.L. et al. SCI CHINA SER C (2009) 52: 651. doi:10.1007/s11427-009-0085-5


Highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART) has had a significant impact on survival of individuals with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS); however, with the longer life-span of patients with AIDS, there is increasing prevalence of AIDS dementia complex (ADC) and other non-AIDS-defining illness, and cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are also common. The influence of these varied disease processes on HIV-1 DNA concentration in brain tissues has not been thoroughly assessed in the post-HAART era. The purpose of the current study is to clarify the impacts of ADC and other complications of HIV disease on the viral load in the brains in AIDS patients with post-HARRT. We examined autopsy specimens from the brains of thirteen patients who died from complications of AIDS with quantitative polymerase chain reaction (QPCR). All but one patient had received HAART prior to death since 1995. Two patients died with severe CVD, multiple cerebrovascular atherosclerosis (CVA) throughout the brain and five patients died with ADC. Six patients had no ADC/CVA. A QPCR was used to measure the presence of HIV-1 DNA in six brain tissues (meninges, frontal grey matter, frontal white matter, temporal subcortex, cerebellum and basal ganglia). In the post-HARRT era, for non-ADC/CVA patients, HIV-1 DNA concentration in brain tissues was statistically higher than that in patients with ADC. In a new finding, two patients who suffered from severe CVD, especially CVA, also had high concentrations of HIV-1 in brain compartments not showing ADC related changes. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a relationship between the CVA and HIV-1 viral burden in brain. The current observations suggest that HAART-resistant HIV reservoirs may survive within ADC lesions of the brain as well as the macrophage rich atherosclerosis, which needs to be confirmed by more AIDS cases with CVA.


HIV-1AIDS dementia complexquantitative PCRDNAcardiovascular diseasecerebrovascular atherosclerosis
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© Science in China Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH 2009