, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 230-241

Human immunodeficiency virus-1 evolutionary patterns associated with pathogenic processes in the brain

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Abstract

The interplay between pathology and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) expansion in brain tissues has not been thoroughly assessed in the highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) era. HIV-associated dementia (HAD) is marked by progressive brain infection due to recruitment and migration of macrophages in brain tissues; however, the cellular and viral events occurring prior to HAD development and death are under debate. In this study, 66 brain tissues from 11 autopsies were analyzed to assess HIV-1 DNA concentration in brain tissues. In most patients without HAD, it was impossible to amplify HIV-1 from brain tissues. Amplifiable DNA was obtained from three cases of patients on HAART who died due to primary pathology other than HAD: (1) cardiovascular disease, a disease associated with HAART therapy; (2) bacterial infections, including Mycobacterium avium complex, rapid occurrence of extreme dementia; and (3) acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)-related lymphoma with meningeal involvement. HIV-1 DNA was also amplified from multiple tissues of two HAD patients. Analysis of HIV-1 nef, gp120, and gp41 sequences showed reduced viral evolution within brain tissues for the non-HAD cases relative to patients with clinical and histological HAD. The present study is the first to show a potential correlation between HIV-1 evolutionary patterns in the brain and different neuropathologies.