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Researchers identify timeline for HIV replication in the brain

Date:
March 26, 2015
Source:
University of North Carolina Health Care
Summary:
HIV can begin replicating in the brain as early as four months after initial infection, researchers have discovered. One-third of people not taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) to control their HIV will eventually develop HIV-associated dementia. The study's results in these newly infected people stress the importance of routine HIV testing to catch the infection as early as possible to allow the prompt initiation antiretroviral therapy, investigators note.
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A team of researchers has discovered HIV can begin replicating in the brain as early as four months after initial infection. The study followed 72 treatment naïve participants during the first two years of HIV infection. Through analysis of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) and blood samples, 20 percent of subjects showed replication in the central nervous system (CNS) at four months. Additionally, 30 percent of participants showed evidence of a marked CSF inflammatory response in at least one time point and 16 percent of study volunteers showed a marked CSF inflammatory response at multiple time points, suggesting an ongoing infection in the CNS. The findings will be published in the scientific journal PLoS Pathogens.

"This shows that viral replication and inflammation can occur early in infection with the concern being that the damage caused could be irreversible," says study virologist Ronald Swanstrom, PhD, Director of the University of North Carolina's Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) and Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at UNC's School of Medicine. "HIV and inflammation have the potential to accelerate the aging process and cause neurocognitive impairment, in the extreme case resulting in HIV-associated dementia."

One-third of people not taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) to control their HIV will eventually develop HIV-associated dementia, Swanstrom says. For him, the study's results in these newly infected people stress the importance of routine HIV testing to catch the infection as early as possible to allow the prompt initiation antiretroviral therapy.

"This is yet another reason we want people on ART right away to limit the possibility of replication and inflammation in the brain," Swanstrom says.

Future studies could focus on whether or not damage to the brain caused by this early replication and inflammation is reversible. Swanstrom collaborated on the study with senior author and neurologist Serena Spudich, MD, Division Chief of Neurological Infections & Global Neurology and Associate Professor of Neurology at Yale School of Medicine, and neurologist Richard Price, MD, Professor of Neurology at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine. The first author on the study was a UNC graduate student in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Christa Sturdevant, who is now a postdoctoral fellow at Duke University. The study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.


Story Source:

Materials provided by University of North Carolina Health Care. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Christa Buckheit Sturdevant, Sarah B. Joseph, Gretja Schnell, Richard W. Price, Ronald Swanstrom, Serena Spudich. Compartmentalized Replication of R5 T Cell-Tropic HIV-1 in the Central Nervous System Early in the Course of Infection. PLOS Pathogens, March 2015 DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1004720

Cite This Page:

University of North Carolina Health Care. "Researchers identify timeline for HIV replication in the brain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 March 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150326152234.htm>.
University of North Carolina Health Care. (2015, March 26). Researchers identify timeline for HIV replication in the brain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150326152234.htm
University of North Carolina Health Care. "Researchers identify timeline for HIV replication in the brain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150326152234.htm (accessed May 23, 2017).

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