Skip to main content
  • Oral presentation
  • Open access
  • Published:

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

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.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ronald Ellis.

Rights and permissions

Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Ellis, R., Langford, D., Masliah, E. et al. HIV and antiretroviral therapy in the brain: neuronal injury and repair. BMC Proc 2 (Suppl 1), S13 (2008).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • DOI: