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J Int AIDS Soc. 2011 Jan 24;14:5. doi: 10.1186/1758-2652-14-5.

New insights into HIV-1-primary skin disorders.

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  • 1Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland, Baltimore MD 21201, USA.


Since the first reports of AIDS, skin involvement has become a burdensome stigma for seropositive patients and a challenging task for dermatologist and infectious disease specialists due to the severe and recalcitrant nature of the conditions. Dermatologic manifestations in AIDS patients act as markers of disease progression, a fact that enhances the importance of understanding their pathogenesis.Broadly, cutaneous disorders associated with HIV type-1 infection can be classified as primary and secondary. While the pathogenesis of secondary complications, such as opportunistic infections and skin tumours, is directly correlated with a decline in the CD4+ T cell count, the origin of the certain manifestations primarily associated with the retroviral infection itself still remains under investigation.The focus of this review is to highlight the immunological phenomena that occur in the skin of HIV-1-seropositive patients, which ultimately lead to skin disorders, such as seborrhoeic dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and eosinophilic folliculitis. Furthermore, we compile the latest data on how shifts in the cytokines milieu, impairments of the innate immune compartment, reactions to xenobiotics and autoimmunity are causative agents in HIV-1-driven skin diseases. Additionally, we provide a thorough analysis of the small animal models currently used to study HIV-1-associated skin complications, centering on transgenic rodent models, which unfortunately, have not been able to fully unveil the role of HIV-1 genes in the pathogenesis of their primarily associated dermatological manifestations.

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