HIV-1 expression protects macrophages and microglia from apoptotic death

M. A. Cosenza, M. L. Zhao, Sunhee C. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Macrophages and microglia are the predominant cells infected with HIV-1 in the brain, yet the effects of productive HIV infection on the fate of these cells are poorly understood. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that HIV-1 expression influences cell death in infected macrophages and microglial cells. We detected apoptosis by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labelling (TUNEL) in the cerebral white matter of control and HIV encephalitis (HIVE) brains, and quantitatively analysed apoptotic cells with respect to their location (vessel-associated vs. parenchymal), CD68 expression, and HIV-1 p24 expression. There were more vessel-associated, but not more parenchymal, TUNEL+ cells in HIVE cases as compared to controls. Vessel-associated TUNEL+ cells were primarily endothelial cells (von Willebrand factor+) or macrophages (CD68+). TUNEL+/CD68+ cells were present in both control and HIVE cases in similar frequencies (2.1 ± 0.7% vs. 1.9 ± 0.7% of total CD68+ populations, respectively). In HIVE, TUNEL+/p24+ cells were 0.4 ± 0.2% of the total p24+ cell population, which was lower than the frequency of TUNEL+/CD68+ cells (1.9 ± 0.7%) in the total CD68+ macrophage population. These results suggest that HIV-1-infected macrophages and microglia are resistant to apoptosis. and may contribute to the formation of a central nervous system viral reservoir.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)478-490
Number of pages13
JournalNeuropathology and Applied Neurobiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2004


  • AIDS
  • Apoptosis
  • HIV encephalitis
  • Perivascul
  • Productive infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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