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Mediators Inflamm. 1992;1(3):191-6.

Tumour necrosis factor-alpha mediates blood-brain barrier damage in HIV-1 infection of the central nervous system.

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  • 1Department of Neurochemistry Institute of Neurology The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery Queen Square London WC1N 3BG UK.


The pathogenesis of brain inflammation and damage by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is unclear. Because blood-brain barrier damage and impaired cerebral perfusion are common features of HIV-1 infection, we evaluated the role of tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) in mediating disruption of the blood-brain barrier. Levels of TNF-alpha were more elevated in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) than in serum of HIV-1 infected patients and were mainly detected in those patients who had neurologic involvement. Intrathecal TNF-alpha levels correlated with signs of blood-brain barrier damage, manifested by high CSF to serum albumin quotient, and with the degree of barrier impairment. In contrast, intrathecal IL-1beta levels did not correlate with blood-brain barrier damage in HIV-1 infected patients. TNF-alpha seems to be related to active neural inflammation and to blood-brain barrier damage. The proinflammatory effects of TNF-alpha in the nervous system are dissociated from those of IL-1beta.

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