Productive HIV-2 infection in the brain is restricted to macrophages/microglia

AIDS. 2003 Jul 4;17(10):1451-5. doi: 10.1097/00002030-200307040-00005.


Objectives: HIV-2 can use a broader range of co-receptors than HIV-1 in vitro, and is less dependent on CD4 for infection. The aim of this study was to detect productive HIV-2 infection in the brain and investigate whether HIV-2 has an expanded tropism for brain cells in vivo, in comparison with HIV-1, which productively infects macrophages/microglia.

Design: Brain samples taken at autopsy from eight patients who died from AIDS, six HIV-2 and two HIV-1/HIV-2 dually seropositive, with HIV encephalitis (HIVE), collected in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire in 1991, were examined for the presence and localization of productive HIV-2 infection.

Methods: Using immunohistochemistry, the presence of HIV-2 p26 in formalin-fixed, wax-embedded brain tissue sections was investigated. Double-staining with glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), CD45- and CD68-specific antibodies was performed to identify infected cell types.

Results: HIV-2 p26 was detected in brain tissue from four of the HIV-2 cases and one of the dually infected individuals. The productively infected cells were either microglia or infiltrating macrophages.

Conclusions: The productively infected cells in the brains of HIV-2 infected individuals are macrophages/microglia. No evidence was found for productive infection of astrocytes, neurons or oligodendrocytes. Thus, the broader in vitro cell tropism, promiscuous coreceptor usage and relative independence of CD4 by HIV-2 compared to HIV-1 does not broaden its range of target cells in the brain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Dementia Complex / immunology
  • AIDS Dementia Complex / virology*
  • Adult
  • Antigens, CD / analysis
  • Antigens, Differentiation, Myelomonocytic / analysis
  • Brain / immunology
  • Brain / virology*
  • Female
  • Gene Products, gag / analysis*
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / analysis
  • HIV Antigens / analysis*
  • HIV-1
  • HIV-2*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens / analysis
  • Macrophages / virology*
  • Male
  • Microglia / virology*
  • Middle Aged
  • gag Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus


  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, Differentiation, Myelomonocytic
  • CD68 antigen, human
  • Gene Products, gag
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein
  • HIV Antigens
  • gag Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus
  • gag protein p26, Human immunodeficiency virus
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens