HIV-1-associated dementia: A metabolic encephalopathy perpetrated by virus-infected and immune-competent mononuclear phagocytes

Eric Anderson, Walter Zink, Huangui Xiong, Howard E. Gendelman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Scopus citations


Infection of the nervous system by HIV-1 commonly causes a broad range of cognitive, behavioral, and motor abnormalities called, in its most severe form, HIV-1-associated dementia (HAD). HAD is a metabolic encephalopathy caused by productive viral infection of brain mononuclear phagocytes (MPs) (perivascular and parenchymal brain macrophages and microglia) and sustained by paracrine-amplified, inflammatory, neurotoxic responses. MP neurotoxins are, in large measure, homeostatic secretory products that can have a negative effect on neuronal cell function when produced in abundance. Proinflammatory cytokines, chemokines, platelet-activating factor, arachidonic acid and its metabolites, nitric oxide, quinolinic acid, progeny virions, and viral structural and regulatory proteins are all included as part of these cellular and viral toxic elements. In addition, neuronal damage can occur directly by engaging specific receptors or through inducing widespread inflammatory activities in brain tissue that ultimately induce neuronal demise. The mechanisms for immune- and viral-mediated neural injury in HAD are made more striking by the effects of abused drugs on cognitive function, Ultimately, linkages between neuronal function and disordered MP immunity will provide insights into how HIV-1 infection of the brain leads to compromised mental function as well as providing clues into the pathogenesis of other neurodegenerative disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S43-S54
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
Issue numberSUPPL. 2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2002


  • Chemokines
  • HIV-1
  • HIV-1 encephalitis
  • HIV-1-associated dementia
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Proinflammatory cytokines
  • Viral structural and regulatory proteins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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