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Why HIV patients develop dementia
Date:9/3/2014

respond by releasing harmful substances, such as reactive oxygen metabolites and inflammatory signalling molecules, i.e. cytokines. To test this hypothesis, the researchers developed a cell culture system in which they initially examined the effect of HIV-infected monocytes on microglial cells. The researchers simulated the individual steps of HIV infection and measured the volume of the cytokines released at each stage. Thus, they were able to demonstrate that releasing the viral RNA in the monocytes was a sufficient trigger for maximal microglial activation. Subsequent infection phases reverse transcription into DNA and the resulting formation of HIV proteins did not augment activation any further.

Released Substances Result in Neuronal Cell Death

In the second step, they analysed nerve cells from rat brains to determine if the substances released by the microglial cells could lead to cell death. Compared with the control group, the number of cell deaths was indeed twice as high. Studies of liquor cerebrospinalis received from HIV-infected patients have shown a positive correlation with marker of neuronal degeneration in patients who did not as yet present any neurocognitive disorders.

Detailed Understanding Necessary for Therapeutic Strategies

"Thanks to our research, we have gained a better understanding of the mechanisms of HIV-associated neurodegeneration," concludes Prof Dr Andrew Chan. "These results are likely to contribute to HAND biomarkers becoming established. In the long term, these data will be used to develop therapeutic strategies aiming at retarding HAND progression in HIV-infected patients." Starting points may include activation of microglial cells a method that is applied in other autoimmune diseases of the central nervous system, for example in multiple sclerosis.


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Contact: Simon Faissner
simon.faissner@rub.de
49-234-509-2411
Ruhr-University Bochum
Source:Eurekalert

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