Infection of the central nervous system by HIV-1, the agent of AIDS, is characterized by the presence of infected and giant microglial cells as well as astrocytosis, demyelination, and neuronal loss. To determine whether cells of neuroectoderm origin can be infected by HIV-1, we have inoculated primary cultures derived from adult human brain with a lymphotropic virus (LAV) or a neurotropic virus (Jr-FL) isolated from a patient with AIDS dementia. While Jr-FL invariably causes productive infection of cultured brain microglia, neither astrocytes nor oligodendrocytes became productively infected by these viral strains. Moreover, the cultured oligodendrocytes develop a normal network of processes and express differentiation antigens in the presence of an ongoing lytic infection of microglial cells. No HIV-1 proviral DNA was detected in primary astrocyte cultures devoid of microglia after inoculation of either HIV-1 strain. Similarly, the neuronal cell line HCN-1 in its differentiated state did not allow the virus to go through cycles of reverse transcription and replication. LAV, however, was able to replicate in undifferentiated HCN-1 cells. Thus, tropism of HIV-1 appears tightly restricted to only one type of differentiated cell in the CNS, the microglia.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases