Neocortical damage during HIV infection

Ann Neurol. 1991 Jun;29(6):651-7. doi: 10.1002/ana.410290613.


Clinical and pathological evidence of subcortical central nervous system (CNS) damage is observed commonly in patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) encephalitis. Whether other CNS regions are also affected has not been well studied. We report neocortical damage in patients with HIV encephalitis. Using quantitative techniques, we demonstrate statistically significant thinning of the neocortex, with a loss of large cortical neurons. Qualitative and quantitative assessments of neocortical neuropil reveal a loss of synaptic density and vacuolation of dendritic processes. Failure to demonstrate an association of these changes with the presence of HIV antigens suggests that neocortical damage may be an indirect effect of HIV infection of the CNS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Dementia Complex / pathology*
  • Atrophy
  • Biomarkers
  • Cerebral Cortex / microbiology
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology*
  • Encephalitis / microbiology
  • Encephalitis / pathology*
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / analysis
  • HIV / isolation & purification
  • HIV Envelope Protein gp41 / analysis
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • HIV Infections / pathology
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins / analysis
  • Synaptophysin


  • Biomarkers
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein
  • HIV Envelope Protein gp41
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Synaptophysin