Neuropathology and pathogenesis of HIV encephalopathies

Wiestler, O. D.; Leib, Stephen L.; Brüstle, O.; Spiegel, H.; Kleihues, P. (1992). Neuropathology and pathogenesis of HIV encephalopathies. Acta histochemica, 42(Suppl.), pp. 107-114. Elsevier

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The nervous system is frequently affected in patients with the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). In addition to opportunistic CNS infections and cerebral lymphomas, approx. 20% of the patients develop HIV-associated encephalopathies. Two major histopathological manifestations are observed. HIV leukoencephalopathy (progressive diffuse leukoencephalopathy) is characterized by a diffuse loss of myelin in the deep white matter of the cerebral and cerebellar hemispheres, with scattered multinucleated giant cells and microglia but scarce or absent inflammatory reaction. HIV encephalitis (multinucleated giant cell encephalitis) is associated with accumulations of multinucleated giant cells, inflammatory reaction and often focal necroses. In some patients, both patterns may overlap. In order to identify the HIV genome in the CNS, brain tissue from 27 patients was analyzed for the presence of HIV gag sequences using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and primers encoding a 109 base pair segment of the gag gene. Amplification of HIV gag succeeded in all 5 patients with clinical and histopathological evidence for HIV encephalopathy but was negative in the 20 AIDS patients with opportunistic bacterial, parasitic and/or viral infections or with cerebral lymphomas. These results strongly suggest that the evolution of histopathologically recognizable HIV-encephalopathies closely correlates with the presence and/or tissue concentration of HIV. Since there were no cases with amplified HIV DNA in the absence of HIV-associated tissue lesions, we conclude that harboring and replication of HIV in the CNS rapidly causes corresponding clinical and morphological changes of HIV-associated encephalopathies. In two children with severe HIV encephalomyelitis, large amounts of HIV gag and env transcripts were detected in affected areas of the brain and spinal cord by in situ hybridization.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Item Type:

Journal Article (Review Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute for Infectious Diseases

UniBE Contributor:

Leib, Stephen


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Stephen Leib

Date Deposited:

01 Sep 2014 11:01

Last Modified:

01 Sep 2014 11:01

PubMed ID:



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