HIV Neuropathogenesis in the Presence of a Disrupted Dopamine System

E. A. Nickoloff-Bybel, T. M. Calderon, P. J. Gaskill, J. W. Berman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Antiretroviral therapy (ART) has transformed HIV into a chronic condition, lengthening and improving the lives of individuals living with this virus. Despite successful suppression of HIV replication, people living with HIV (PLWH) are susceptible to a growing number of comorbidities, including neuroHIV that results from infection of the central nervous system (CNS). Alterations in the dopaminergic system have long been associated with HIV infection of the CNS. Studies indicate that changes in dopamine concentrations not only alter neurotransmission, but also significantly impact the function of immune cells, contributing to neuroinflammation and neuronal dysfunction. Monocytes/macrophages, which are a major target for HIV in the CNS, are responsive to dopamine. Therefore, defining more precisely the mechanisms by which dopamine acts on these cells, and the changes in cellular function elicited by this neurotransmitter are necessary to develop therapeutic strategies to treat neuroHIV. This is especially important for vulnerable populations of PLWH with chemically altered dopamine concentrations, such as individuals with substance use disorder (SUD), or aging individuals using dopamine-altering medications. The specific neuropathologic and neurocognitive consequences of increased CNS dopamine remain unclear. This is due to the complex nature of HIV neuropathogenesis, and logistical and technical challenges that contribute to inconsistencies among cohort studies, animal models and in vitro studies, as well as lack of demographic data and access to human CNS samples and cells. This review summarizes current understanding of the impact of dopamine on HIV neuropathogenesis, and proposes new experimental approaches to examine the role of dopamine in CNS HIV infection. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)729-742
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • ART
  • NeuroHIV
  • dopamine
  • neuroinflammation
  • substance use disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology


Dive into the research topics of 'HIV Neuropathogenesis in the Presence of a Disrupted Dopamine System'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this