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Acta Neuropathol. 1993;85(2):185-9.

Neuronal damage in the cerebral cortex of AIDS brains: a morphometric study.

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Institute of Neuropathology, University of Munich, Federal Republic of Germany.


Using stereological methods, two cerebral cortical areas from AIDS brains were investigated. Neuronal density, profile area of neurons, and perikaryon volume fraction were measured and compared to age-matched control brains. In the fronto-orbital cortex (area 11) of AIDS brains, a significant loss of neurons was seen. The perikaryon volume fraction was likewise decreased. The size of neurons did not differ between control and AIDS brains. In patients with clinical signs of progressive dementia and in brains with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-specific neuropathology (HIV-leukoencephalopathy and/or HIV-encephalitis) as compared to patients lacking these features, a small decrease in neuronal density was noted but this difference did not reach the level of statistical significance (P = 0.16). In the superior parietal lobule (area 7) of AIDS brains, no loss of nerve cells was noted. AIDS patients with progressive dementia and brains with HIV-specific neuropathology showed no difference in neuronal densities as compared to those without such features. We conclude that the fronto-orbital cortex, in contrast to the parietal cortex, is mainly damaged in AIDS brains. Neuronal loss was not significantly correlated with development of dementing symptoms and of HIV-specific neuropathology.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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