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Biochem Soc Trans. 2004 Nov;32(Pt 5):750-2.

Activation of the blood-brain barrier by SIV (simian immunodeficiency virus) requires cell-associated virus and is not restricted to endothelial cell activation.

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  • 1Tulane National Primate Research Center, 18703 Three Rivers Road, Covington, LA 70433, USA.


The primary cell infected during acute HIV neuropathogenesis is the monocyte-derived macrophage. We have demonstrated that there is activation of the BBB (blood-brain barrier) during acute viral infection and at terminal AIDS. However, it has never been determined if there is a requirement for the virus to be carried through the BBB or how these Trojan horses would be induced to cross the BBB. We added SIVmac251-infected (SIV is simian immunodeficiency virus) mononuclear cells (and their supernatants) to the luminal or abluminal compartment of our BBB model. There was activation of both sides of the BBB model, only if viral-infected cells were added to the luminal compartment, as opposed to the addition of cell-free supernatants. This suggests that cell-associated virus is essential for the activation of the BBB. This, in turn, would be expected to lead to further infiltration of cells capable of viral infection. VCAM-1 (vascular cell adhesion molecule 1) staining revealed, for the first time, that there is an absolute requirement for virally infected cells, and not just the presence of virus for the activation of the BBB.

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