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Chemical liberated by leaky gut may allow HIV to infect the brain, Einstein scientists find
Date:8/18/2008

In up to 20 percent of people infected with HIV, the virus manages to escape from the bloodstream and cross into the brain, resulting in HIV-associated dementia and other cognitive disorders. Now, scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have found strong evidence that a component of the cell walls of intestinal bacteriaa chemical present in high levels in the blood of HIV-infected peoplehelps HIV to penetrate the usually-impregnable blood brain barrier (BBB). The findings, published in the August issue of the Journal of Virology, could lead to strategies for preventing HIV from entering the brain and causing serious complications.

"Previous research has suggested that it's not individual HIV viruses that get into the brain but rather HIV-infected immune cells known as monocytes," says Dr. Harris Goldstein, director of the Einstein-Montefiore Medical Center for AIDS Research and senior author of the study. "Using an animal model, we wanted to find out first of all whether being infected with HIV enables monocytes to do what they don't usually doescape from blood vessels and enter brain tissue."

Overcoming HIV's inability to infect mice, Dr. Goldstein and his colleagues had previously created a transgenic mouse line, HIV-TG mice, equipped with all the genes needed to make HIVand that produces HIV in those cells, including monocytes and T cells, in which the virus multiplies in people. The HIV-TG mice were then bred with another transgenic mouse line, GFP-TG mice, containing the gene that codes for green fluorescent protein (GFP). The result: a double transgenic mouse line, HIV/GFP-TG mice, whose HIV-infected monocytes carried the GFP gene. This meant that the monocytes could be detectedeither by looking for glowing green cells under the microscope or by using polymerase chain reaction, a sensitive genetic assay capable of detecting the DNA of the GFP gene.

Next, the researchers isolated m
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Contact: Michael Heller
mheller@aecom.yu.edu
718-430-4186
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert  

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