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    ABSTRACT: The introduction of Highly Active Anti-retroviral Therapy (HAART) has resulted in significant decreases in morbidity and mortality for subjects infected with HIV. The brain is a major target organ for HIV resulting in significant neuropathological changes in most HIV infected subjects and a wide range of clinical neurological symptoms including HIV associated dementia. In the pre-HAART era HIV associated dementia was a common complication of AIDS. However, since the introduction of HAART the incidence of HIV associated dementia has fallen, but the prevelance has actually risen due to the increasing number of infected subjects and increased life expectancy. HIV associated dementia correlates most closely with neuroinflammation rather than directly with viral load or HIV encephalitis. HIV related clinical and neuropathological disorders are more prevalent in drug abusers than in other risk groups. This review focuses on the shifting pathology observed in HIV infected subjects since the introduction of HAART, discussing the clinical manifestations of these and the influence of confounding factors such as drug abuse and Hepatitis C co-infection.
    International Review of Psychiatry 03/2008; 20(1):15-24.
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    ABSTRACT: Despite two decades of research, certain aspects of HIV-related central nervous system (CNS) disease remain poorly understood. HIV targets microglia and macrophages within the CNS and enters the brain compartment early. However, HIV is there held in check apparently until the onset of significant immune compromise, when viral replication, microglial activation, neuronal damage, and cognitive impairment are likely to ensue. Illicit drug abuse continues to be a significant risk factor for HIV transmission worldwide. Whether HIV-related CNS disease is more prevalent or more severe in this risk group has long been debated. Drugs of abuse can of themselves cause immune suppression, blood-brain barrier breakdown, microglial activation, and neuronal injury. This review presents evidence that HIV associated CNS disorders are indeed accentuated in drug abusers. However, the advent of effective therapy has added a new dimension, which must be taken into consideration. Treated individuals are surviving much longer and HIV encephalitis and HIV-associated dementia have become much less common. However, more subtle forms of CNS damage are emerging. Examination of the brains of individuals who have been treated long term with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) reveals a surprising degree of microglial activation, comparable at times to that seen formerly in milder cases of HIV encephalitis. In addition, these individuals show evidence of increased deposition of neurodegenerative proteins, particularly hyperphosphorylated tau. Similar observations have been made in young opiate abusers who are HIV negative. Taken together, these results suggest that neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration, which are clinically silent at present, may cause problems in the future in HAART-treated subjects.
    Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology 07/2006; 1(2):182-91.
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    ABSTRACT: We aimed to assess the effects of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) encephalitis (HIVE) on the B-lymphocyte population of the brain. We also tested the effects of intravenous opiate drug abuse because this is a major risk factor for infection, with known immunosuppressive properties. Immunohistochemistry was used to identify B lymphocytes in the brains of clinically well-characterized HIV-negative drug abusers, individuals with HIVE, and, for comparison, HIV-negative individuals with encephalitis. Perivascular and parenchymal B lymphocytes were studied in 11 regions of each brain. We found that despite a small apparent rise, the abuse of opiate drugs had no significant effect on the B-lymphocyte population of the brain. Individuals with HIVE were found to have a greater number of B lymphocytes in brain tissue than individuals with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) who had no central nervous system (CNS) pathology. However, in comparison to nonimmunocompromised individuals with encephalitis, the B-lymphocyte population of HIVE brains was greatly reduced. We suggest that this latter finding may be linked to declining CD4 T-lymphocyte levels in end-stage AIDS, and that CD4 T lymphocytes may be required for efficient entry of B lymphocytes to the CNS. The brain B-lymphocyte population correlated well with CD4 T-lymphocyte level in the blood, in cases with viral encephalitis. These findings suggest that systemic immune competence is required to mount a full B-lymphocyte response to viral CNS infections. Furthermore, we suggest that CD4 T lymphocytes may play a key role in the humoral immune response to viral infection of the brain.
    Journal of NeuroVirology 07/2004; 10(3):181-8.
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    ABSTRACT: The Edinburgh cohort of intravenous drug users (IVDUs) became infected with HIV between 1983 and 1984. Before the era of effective therapy, many of these infected IVDUs displayed cognitive impairments on progressing to AIDS and were found to have HIV encephalitis (HIVE). Full autopsies were conducted on these patients, providing an opportunity to study the intersecting pathology of pure HIVE and drug use. High proviral load in the brain correlated well with the presence of giant cells and HIV p24 positivity. In presymptomatic HIV infection, IVDUs were found to have a lymphocytic infiltrate in the central nervous system (CNS). Apart from the expected microglial activation in the presence of HIV infection of the CNS, drug use in its own right was found to be associated with microglial activation. Examination of HIV-negative IVDUs revealed a number of neuropathologic features, including microglial activation, which may underpin HIV-related pathology in the CNS. HIV isolated from different regions of the brain was exclusively of R5-tropic type throughout the course of infection. Detailed studies of p17 and V3 sequences suggest that viral sequestration occurs in the CNS before the onset of AIDS and that increasing diversity of HIV variants within the brain is associated with increasing severity of HIVE. Because brain isolates have proved to be different from those in lymphoid tissue (and blood), it is likely that selective neuroadaptive pressures operate before HIVE supervenes. Drug abuse may be synergistic in this process through activation of microglia, breakdown of the blood-brain barrier, and direct neurotoxicity. Collections of clinically well-characterized HIV-infected tissues such as those in the Edinburgh Brain Bank are a vital resource to support ongoing studies of viral pathogenesis in the CNS and interactions with drug abuse.
    JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes 11/2002; 31 Suppl 2:S35-42.
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    ABSTRACT: In an autopsy study of HIV-infected children in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, the neuropathology of 76 HIV-1- and 2 HIV-2-positive children was compared with that of 77 frequency-matched HIV-negative children, in whom the systemic pathology was also known. Seventy of the 78 HIV-seropositive children were confirmed as HIV-infected, as determined by combined serology, IgA Western blots and clinicopathological criteria. The HIV-negative children showed a high background level (n = 49, 64%) of neuropathological abnormalities, including nonspecific inflammatory infiltrates, micromineralization, and bacterial and lymphocytic meningitis. In the HIV-positive children, HIV encephalitis was found in 4 (6%), cytomegalovirus in 2 (3%), toxoplasmosis in 3 (4%) and measles encephalitis in one (1%). Bacterial meningitis was equally common in both groups, but cerebral malaria was less common (n = 2, 3%) in HIV-positive than in HIV-negative children (n = 11, 14%). The low prevalence of HIV encephalitis may reflect comparatively early death in HIV infection in Africa as compared with our experience in Europe and the US.
    Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology 07/1997; 56(6):686-92.
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