The far-reaching HAND of cART: cART effects on astrocytes

Hemil Gonzalez, Anthony Podany, Lena Al-Harthi, Jennillee Wallace

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Following the introduction of combination antiretroviral therapy (cART), the morbidity and mortality from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection has been drastically curtailed and HIV has now become a chronic manageable disease. Persons living with HIV (PLWH) are living longer and experiencing significant co-morbidities and conditions of aging. NeuroHIV, clinically defined as HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorders (HAND) and pathologically manifested by persistent inflammation in the CNS despite cART, is a significant co-morbid condition for PLWH. In the pre-cART era, HIV mediated much of the pathogenesis in the Central Nervous System (CNS); in the cART era, with low to undetectable viremia, other mechanisms may be contributing to persistent neuroinflammation. Emerging data point to the adverse effects at the cellular level of cART, independent of HIV. Astrocytes are the most abundant cells in the CNS, playing vital roles in maintaining CNS homeostasis (e.g. metabolic support to neurons, clearance of neurotransmitters, ion balance, modulation of synaptic functions and maintaining the structural integrity of the blood brain barrier (BBB). Therefore, any disruption of their function will have wide repercussions in the CNS. In this review, we will address current knowledge and gaps on the impact of antiretrovirals (ARVs) on astrocytes and physiologic consequences in the CNS. Understanding the status of this field, will provide a practical framework to elucidate the potential role of cART-mediated dysregulation of astrocytes in neuroHIV pathogenesis and inform therapeutic strategies that are “neuro-friendly”. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-158
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • ARVs
  • Astrocytes
  • HAND
  • Neurotoxicity
  • cART

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


Dive into the research topics of 'The far-reaching HAND of cART: cART effects on astrocytes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this