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Neuropathol Appl Neurobiol. 1999 Apr;25(2):123-33.

Neuronal apoptosis does not correlate with dementia in HIV infection but is related to microglial activation and axonal damage.

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Département de Pathologie (Neuropathologie), CHU Henri Mondor, Créteil, France, Groupe d'Etude et de Recherche sur le muscle et le Nerfs (GERMEN, EA 2347 Université Paris XII, Association Claude Bernard, France).


To characterize the distribution of apoptotic neurons and their relationships with the stage of disease, a history of HIV-dementia, and the degree of productive HIV infection, microglial activation and axonal damage, we examined the brains of 40 patients. Samples of frontal and temporal cortex, basal ganglia and brain stem were taken post-mortem from 20 patients with AIDS (including three with HIV-dementia, and eight with cognitive disorders that did not fulfil the criteria for HIV-dementia), 10 HIV-positive asymptomatic cases and 10 seronegative controls. Neuronal apoptosis was demonstrated by in situ end labelling in 18 AIDS cases and two pre-AIDS cases; a single apoptotic neuron was present in the temporal cortex of a control. Semiquantitative evaluation showed that the severity of neuronal apoptosis in the cerebral cortex correlated with the presence of cerebral atrophy, but not with a history of HIV dementia. There was no global quantitative correlation between neuronal apoptosis and HIV encephalitis or microglial activation. However, there was some topographical correlation between these changes. In the basal ganglia, apoptotic neurons were much more abundant in the vicinity of multinucleated giant cells and/or p24 expressing cells. Microglial activation was constantly present in these areas. Axonal damage was identified using beta-amyloid-precursor protein (betaAPP) immunostaining in 17 AIDS and eight pre-AIDS brains. Although no global quantitative correlation could be established between axonal damage and neuronal apoptosis there was an obvious topographic correlation supporting the view that axonal damage, either secondary to local microglial activation or due to the intervention of systemic factors, may also contribute to neuronal apoptosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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