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J Infect Dis. 1995 Sep;172(3):638-47.

Increased human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) type 1 DNA content and quinolinic acid concentration in brain tissues from patients with HIV encephalopathy.

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  • 1Pediatric Branch, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


Levels of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) DNA and quinolinic acid were examined in areas of the central nervous system (CNS) and lymphoid organs (LN) from 5 AIDS patients with no clinically apparent CNS compromise (group I), 7 with CNS opportunistic diseases (group II), and 8 with HIV encephalopathy (group III). The brains from patients with HIV encephalopathy not only contained higher levels of HIV-1 DNA (cerebrum, P < .01; cerebellum, P < .05) as assessed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction but also showed a higher rate of viral pol region mutations suggestive of zidovudine or didanosine resistance than brains from patients in group I or II (P < .01). CNS quinolinic acid concentrations were significantly higher in group II and III patients than in group I (P = .03), even though quinolinic acid levels in LN were comparable among the 3 groups. These data suggest that CNS inflammatory changes associated with HIV encephalopathy may be triggered by a local productive HIV-1 infection within the CNS.

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