HIV neuropathogenesis: A tight rope walk of innate immunity

Honghong Yao, Crystal Bethel-Brown, Cicy Zidong Li, Shilpa J. Buch

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


During the course of HIV-1 disease, virus neuroinvasion occurs as an early event, within weeks following infection. Intriguingly, subsequent central nervous system (CNS) complications manifest only decades after the initial virus exposure. Although CNS is commonly regarded as an immune-privileged site, emerging evidence indicates that innate immunity elicited by the CNS glial cells is a critical determinant for the establishment of protective immunity. Sustained expression of these protective immune responses, however, can be a double-edged sword. As protective immune mediators, cytokines have the ability to function in networks and co-operate with other host/viral mediators to tip the balance from a protective to toxic state in the CNS. Herein, we present an overview of some of the essential elements of the cerebral innate immunity in HIV neuropathogenesis including the key immune cell types of the CNS with their respective soluble immune mediators: (1) cooperative interaction of IFN-γ with the host/virus factor (platelet-derived host factor (PDGF)/viral Tat) in the induction of neurotoxic chemokine CXCL10 by macrophages, (2) response of astrocytes to viral infection, and (3) protective role of PDGF and MCP-1 in neuronal survival against HIV Tat toxicity. These components of the cerebral innate immunity do not act separately from each other but form a functional immunity network. The ultimate outcome of HIV infection in the CNS will thus be dependent on the regulation of the net balance of cell-specific protective versus detrimental responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)489-495
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • CXCL10
  • HIV neuropathogenesis
  • MCP-1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology

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