Monday, October 10, 2011

HIV Found to Infect Cerebral Macrophages

A study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been studying HIV-associated dementia (HAD), a common neurological disease that accompanies AIDS. In their study, they realized that many patients who have this disease have not one but two genetically different strains of HIV infecting their cerebrospinal fluid (only one strain was found circulating in the blood of these patients).
One of these types of HIV reproduces normally in T cells, like the virus in the blood, but the other was found to reproduce in macrophages, marking the first time that HIV has been observed replicating in anything besides a T cell.
Macrophages have a longer half-life than T cells, and so HIV infecting these cells last a lot longer in the body. But infected macrophages can be detected years before the onset of CNS-related disease, so this discovery may help in targeting and preventing HAD before it starts in many patients.

-Emily Mitchell

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