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Am J Pathol. 1992 Jan;140(1):137-44.

Low levels of human immunodeficiency virus replication in the brain tissue of children with severe acquired immunodeficiency syndrome encephalopathy.

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Viral Oncology Unit, Pasteur Institute, Paris, France.


The authors examined the autopsy brain samples of nine children infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) at birth by histology, immunologic staining, and in situ hybridization. Surprisingly, although seven of these children presented with typical AIDS encephalopathy, the authors could detect a multifocal HIV infection in the brains of only three of these patients. The authors could not detect any significant HIV replication in the brain of four other children despite severe neurologic disease. However, HIV DNA was detected by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in the central nervous system (CNS) of all patients. In addition, the authors found associated lesions in the brains of three of these four patients. This study shows that severe AIDS encephalopathy exists in children and therefore might exist in adults with few signs or without any signs of HIV replication or inflammation in the CNS. Understanding the pathogenesis of this neurologic disease and the kinetics of HIV replication in brain tissue of children with AIDS encephalopathy is essential to determine the best therapeutic strategy.

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