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Examination of brains of AIDS cases for human immunodeficiency virus and human cytomegalovirus nucleic acids.
  1. D G Walker,
  2. S Itagaki,
  3. K Berry,
  4. P L McGeer
  1. Kinsmen Laboratory of Neurological Research, Department of Psychiatry, Vancouver, BC, Canada.


    The role of direct virus infection as a determining factor in acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) dementia was investigated using in situ hybridisation for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and human cytomegalovirus (HCMV). Four of the five AIDS dementia patients in this series demonstrated HIV infected cells distributed in widely different parts of the brain, but only one case showed HCMV infected cells. The greater abundance of HIV was in subcortical white matter in nodular areas consisting of monocyte/macrophage infiltrates. The cells were occasionally arranged as a multinucleated syncitium. In two cases, a few large cells with the appearance of neurons were positive for HIV hybridisation. By appropriate treatment with ribonuclease, it was shown that hybridisation was primarily to HIV RNA. HCMV infected cells were observed in small numbers in only one of the positive cases, suggesting that HCMV is not a determining factor in AIDS dementia. HCMV positive cells were located in the grey matter, with an appearance suggestive of neurons. Cells expressing the MHC-class II antigen HLA-DR, a marker of reactive microglia and macrophages, were observed to be extensive in affected brain sections in the one case examined. These cells were present in greater number than HIV infected cells. In this case, extensive numbers of HIV infected cells were noticed along the peripheral margin of the substantia innominata. This could indicate infection in this case of a critical brain region from the cerebrospinal fluid.

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