HIV Compartmentalization in the CNS and Its Impact in Treatment Outcomes and Cure Strategies

Curr HIV/AIDS Rep. 2022 Jun;19(3):207-216. doi: 10.1007/s11904-022-00605-1. Epub 2022 May 10.


Purpose of review: This review focuses on the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) findings in connection to the central nervous system (CNS) reservoir in treatment-naïve and virally suppressed PLWH, followed by the findings in CSF HIV-1 escape and analytical treatment interruption studies.

Recent findings: Compared to chronic infection, initiating antiretroviral therapy (ART) during acute HIV-1 infection results in more homogeneous longitudinal benefits in the CNS. Viral variants in CSF HIV-1 escape are independently linked to infected cells from the systemic reservoir and in the CNS, highlighting the phenomenon as a consequence of different mechanisms. HIV-infected cells persist in CSF in nearly half of the individuals on stable ART and are associated with worse neurocognitive performance. Future studies should probe into the origin of the HIV-infected cells in the CSF. Examining the capacity for viral replication would provide new insight into the CNS reservoir and identify strategies to eradicate it or compensate for the insufficiency of ART.

Keywords: Antiretroviral therapy; Central nervous system; Compartmentalization; HIV cure; HIV reservoir.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Central Nervous System
  • HIV Infections* / cerebrospinal fluid
  • HIV Infections* / drug therapy
  • HIV Seropositivity*
  • HIV-1* / genetics
  • Humans
  • RNA, Viral
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Viral Load


  • RNA, Viral