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Neuroinflammation has an established link with AIDS-related dementia but has not been investigated in the post-highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) era. In this autopsy study we examined post-HAART cases in Edinburgh for the presence of HIV-related pathology and in well-treated cases for evidence of neuroinflammation. We focused on basal ganglia and the hippocampus, 2 key areas of the brain for cognitive functioning and compared pre- and post-HAART cases for neuroinflammatory status. We find evidence, post-HAART, that there is a high level of microglial/macrophage activation that is comparable with the levels seen, pre-HAART, in HIV encephalitis (HIVE) and AIDS cases. This result was maximal in the hippocampus where microglial/macrophage upregulation in the HAART-treated group exceeded that seen in HIVE. In the basal ganglia, HAART-treated cases showed significantly higher levels of CD68-positive microglia/macrophages than in control brains (p = 0.004), and in the hippocampus levels were significantly higher than those seen in control cases, pre-HAART AIDS, and presymptomatic brains (p = 0.01). However, lymphocyte levels in the areas examined were low in HAART-treated cases. We conclude that there is a surprising degree of ongoing neuroinflammation in HAART-treated patients, particularly in the hippocampus. This may pose a threat for the future health of individuals maintained long-term on HAART therapy.

Original publication

DOI

10.1093/jnen/64.6.529

Type

Journal article

Journal

J Neuropathol Exp Neurol

Publication Date

06/2005

Volume

64

Pages

529 - 536

Keywords

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, Adolescent, Adult, Antigens, CD, Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active, Brain, Central Nervous System Diseases, Female, Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein, Humans, Immunohistochemistry, Inflammation, Ki-67 Antigen, Male, Middle Aged