The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a diffusion barrier that has an important role in maintaining a precisely regulated microenvironment protecting the neural tissue from infectious agents and toxins in the circulating system. Compromised BBB integrity plays a major role in the pathogenesis of retroviral associated neurological diseases. Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection in the Central Nervous System (CNS) is an early event even before the serodiagnosis for HIV positivity or the initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART), resulting in neurological complications in many of the infected patients. Macrophages, microglia and astrocytes (in low levels) are the most productively/latently infected cell types within the CNS. In this brief review, we have discussed about the effect of HIV infection and viral proteins on the integrity and function of BBB, which may contribute to the progression of HIV associated neurocognitive disorders.
Keywords: HIV; Nef; Tat; Vpr; blood-brain barrier; gp120; neurocognitive disorders.