Volume 2 Supplement 1

Infectious diseases of the nervous system: pathogenesis and worldwide impact

Open Access

HIV and antiretroviral therapy in the brain: neuronal injury and repair

  • Ronald Ellis1Email author,
  • Dianne Langford1,
  • Eliezer Masliah1,
  • Igor Grant1,
  • Robert Heaton1,
  • Joseph Wong1,
  • Davey Smith1,
  • Scott Letendre1 and
  • Allen McCutchan1
BMC Proceedings20082(Suppl 1):S13

DOI: 10.1186/1753-6561-2-s1-s13

Published: 23 September 2008

Worldwide over 30 million people are infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1). Although HIV is both neurotropic and neurovirulent, the spectrum of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) remains under-recognized. Combination antiretroviral therapy has improved the health of millions of those living with HIV, yet antiretroviral drugs show highly variable and often inadequate penetration into the CNS. As a result, patients' quality of life continues to be diminished by milder, residual neurocognitive impairments that have not been effectively addressed. HIV causes synaptodendritic neuronal injury that can be measured post-mortem and is a likely source of neurocognitive decline. By carefully selecting specific antiretrovirals and supplementing them with neuroprotective agents, physicians might be able to facilitate innate CNS repair, promoting enhanced synaptodendritic plasticity, neural function and clinical neurological status.

Authors’ Affiliations

Department of neurosciences, University of California


© Ellis et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2008

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd.