Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and the blood-brain barrier

J Neurovirol. 2009 Apr;15(2):111-22. doi: 10.1080/13550280902769764.


The blood-brain barrier (BBB) plays a critical role in normal physiology of the central nervous system by regulating what reaches the brain from the periphery. The BBB also plays a major role in neurologic disease including neuropathologic sequelae associated with infection by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in humans and the closely related simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) in macaques. In this review, we provide an overview of the function, structure, and components of the BBB, followed by a more detailed discussion of the subcellular structures and regulation of the tight junction. We then discuss the ways in which HIV/SIV affects the BBB, largely through infection of monocytes/macrophages, and how infected macrophages crossing the BBB ultimately results in breakdown of the barrier.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / virology*
  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / pathology
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / physiology*
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / virology
  • HIV / metabolism
  • HIV / pathogenicity
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / virology
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Macrophages / virology
  • Monocytes / metabolism
  • Monocytes / virology
  • Simian Immunodeficiency Virus / metabolism
  • Simian Immunodeficiency Virus / pathogenicity
  • Tight Junctions / metabolism
  • Virulence