A potential role for interferon-α in the pathogenesis of hiv-associated dementia

M. B. Rho, S. Wesselingh, J. D. Glass, J. C. McArthur, S. Choi, J. Griffin, W. R. Tyor

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Previous studies in patients receiving interferon-α (IFN-α) therapy and patients with systemic lupus erythematosus have demonstrated that elevated cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of IFN-α are associated with cognitive dysfunction. We measured IFN-α levels in CSF and blood by ELISA in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive patients with (n = 21) and without (n = 23) dementia and HIV-negative controls (n = 48). IFN-α was significantly elevated in the CSF of HIV-positive patients with dementia compared to those without dementia and controls. An increasing amount of IFN-α in the CSF was correlated with the clinical parameter of increasing Memorial Sloan Kettering scores; although these correlations were not statistically significant, they further suggest an association of increased CSF IFN-α with neurocognitive dysfunction in AIDS. Immunocytochemical staining of brains demonstrated IFN-α-positive macrophages and astrocytes in frontal cortex and white matter and IFN-α mRNA was detected by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, further indicating that IFN-α is made by cells within the brain and suggesting that the significant increases of IFN-α protein found in the CSF of patients with HIV-associated dementia complex are derived from intrinsic brain cells such as macrophages and astrocytes. Increased local production of IFN-α during HIV infection may contribute directly or indirectly to the pathogenesis of HIV-associated dementia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)366-377
Number of pages12
JournalBrain Behavior and Immunity
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Dec 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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