SCID mice with HIV encephalitis develop behavioral abnormalities

N. Avgeropoulos, B. Kelley, L. Middaugh, S. Arrigo, Y. Persidsky, H. E. Gendelman, W. R. Tyor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice inoculated intracerebrally (IC) with HIV-infected human monocytes develop brain pathology similar to that in humans with HIV encephalitis. This includes HIV-positive macrophages and multinucleated giant cells, astrogliosis, microglial nodules, and neuronal dropout. These xenografts survive about 1 month. To develop a model of chronic HIV encephalitis and to assay the resulting behavioral abnormalities, we reinoculated SCID mice IC every 4 weeks for 3 months with either HIV-infected human monocytes (n = 5) or uninfected human macrophages (n = 4) or administered no inoculation (n = 6); these three groups were monitored for behavioral abnormalities. Tests of cognitive function in a Morris water maze 3.5 months after the first inoculation suggested that HIV- infected mice performed poorly compared with controls. Following testing in the water maze on days 4 and 5 of acquisition, motor activity of infected mice was reduced in comparison with that of controls. Retention of goal location when tested 1 week later was impaired in HIV-infected mice compared with controls. Histopathologic analysis of brains revealed significant astrogliosis and strongly suggested higher numbers of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II-positive multinucleated macrophages in HIV-infected compared with control mice. Thus, our preliminary studies indicate that SCID mice with HIV encephalitis develop behavioral abnormalities reminiscent of human disease. These behavioral abnormalities are associated with significantly increased astrogliosis, the presence of HIV, and probably multinucleated giant cells. These studies further support the use of this SCID animal model system for studies of the pathogenesis of HIV encephalitis and for drug interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-20
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes and Human Retrovirology
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 1998


  • Behavioral abnormalities
  • HIV encephalitis
  • SCID mice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Virology


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