Alzheimer’s-like pathology at the crossroads of hiv-associated neurological disorders

Divya T. Chemparthy, Muthukumar Kannan, Lila Gordon, Shilpa Buch, Susmita Sil

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Despite the widespread success of combined antiretroviral therapy (cART) in suppressing viremia, the prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-associated neurological disorders (HAND) and associated comorbidities such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD)-like symptomatology is higher among people living with HIV. The pathophysiology of observed deficits in HAND is well understood. However, it has been suggested that it is exacerbated by aging. Epidemiological studies have suggested comparable concentrations of the toxic amyloid protein, am-yloid-β42 (Aβ42), in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of HAND patients and in the brains of patients with dementia of the Alzheimer’s type. Apart from abnormal amyloid-β (Aβ) metabolism in AD, a better understanding of the role of similar pathophysiologic processes in HAND could be of substantial value. The pathogenesis of HAND involves either the direct effects of the virus or the effect of viral proteins, such as Tat, Gp120, or Nef, as well as the effects of antiretrovirals on amyloid metabolism and tauopathy, leading, in turn, to synaptodendritic alterations and neuroinflammatory milieu in the brain. Additionally, there is a lack of knowledge regarding the causative or by-stander role of Alzheimer’s-like pathology in HAND, which is a barrier to the development of therapeutics for HAND. This review attempts to highlight the cause–effect relationship of Alz-heimer’s-like pathology with HAND, attempting to dissect the role of HIV-1, HIV viral proteins, and antiretrovirals in patient samples, animal models, and cell culture model systems. Biomarkers associated with Alzheimer’s-like pathology can serve as a tool to assess the neuronal injury in the brain and the associated cognitive deficits. Understanding the factors contributing to the AD-like pathology associated with HAND could set the stage for the future development of therapeutics aimed at abrogating the disease process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number930
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • AD
  • Aβ42
  • HAND
  • Synaptodendritic alterations
  • Tauopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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