Brain cell reservoirs of latent virus in presymptomatic HIV-infected individuals

Am J Pathol. 2011 Oct;179(4):1623-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2011.06.039. Epub 2011 Aug 24.


We detected HIV-1 DNA in pure populations of perivascular macrophages, parenchymal microglia, and astrocytes, isolated using laser microdissection from brain tissue of five untreated individuals who died in the presymptomatic stage of infection from non-HIV causes. HIV-1 DNA was detected in the three cell populations, most consistently in perivascular macrophages, without evidence of productive infection. The percentage of PCR reactions detecting HIV-1 DNA in perivascular macrophages correlated inversely with peripheral blood CD4 counts. These findings demonstrate that brain cell reservoirs of latent HIV-1 exist before pathological HIV encephalitis and suggest that perivascular macrophage trafficking of latent virus into the brain increases with immunosuppression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain / virology*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / pathology*
  • HIV Infections / virology*
  • HIV-1 / genetics
  • HIV-1 / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lasers
  • Male
  • Microdissection
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Virus Latency / physiology*
  • gag Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus / chemistry
  • gag Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus / genetics


  • gag Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus