Send to

Choose Destination
J Infect Dis. 2011 Jun 1;203(11):1647-57. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jir163.

Autophagy is increased in postmortem brains of persons with HIV-1-associated encephalitis.

Author information

Department of Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0672, USA.



Autophagy is critical to maintaining cell homeostasis and is implicated in neurodegenerative diseases. This research examined the role of autophagy in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-associated encephalitis, the pathologic hallmark of neuroAIDS.


The frontal cortex from 32 HIV-infected persons (12 without evidence HIV-1 encephalitis or clinical signs of central nervous system impairment and 20 with histopathological findings of HIV-1 encephalitis) and 8 persons without HIV infection and any neuropathology were examined postmortem. Green fluorescent protein-labeled (GFP) light chain 3 (LC3)-expressing neuroblastoma SK-N-SH cells treated with gp120 from CXCR4 and CCR5 viruses were also examined. Autophagic markers were assessed by means of Western blot analysis, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and confocal microscopy.


Autophagic proteins Beclin 1, Autophagy-related gene (Atg)-5, Atg-7, and LC3-II were significantly increased in brains with HIV-1 encephalitis (P < .05). These findings were confirmed by TEM and immunostaining of brain tissue. Additionally, levels of autophagic proteins and autophagosomes were increased in neuronal cells treated with both CXCR4- or CCR5-tropic HIV-1 gp120. No increase in the level of autophagy was observed in the brains of HIV-infected persons without HIV-1 encephalitis compared with the level in brains of HIV-uninfected persons.


Postmortem brains with HIV-1 encephalitis exhibit increased markers of autophagy compared with brains from HIV-infected persons without HIV-1 encephalitis or HIV-uninfected control brains, which suggests that dysregulation of autophagy may be important in the pathogenesis of neuroAIDS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center