Secretion of neurotoxins by mononuclear phagocytes infected with HIV-1

Science  14 Dec 1990:
Vol. 250, Issue 4987, pp. 1593-1596
DOI: 10.1126/science.2148832


Mononuclear phagocytes (microglia, macrophages, and macrophage-like giant cells) are the principal cellular targets for human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) in the central nervous system (CNS). Since HIV-1 does not directly infect neurons, the causes for CNS dysfunction in acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) remain uncertain. HIV-1-infected human monocytoid cells, but not infected human lymphoid cells, released toxic agents that destroy chick and rat neurons in culture. These neurotoxins were small, heat-stable, protease-resistant molecules that act by way of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors. Macrophages and microglia infected with HIV-1 may produce neurologic disease through chronic secretion of neurotoxic factors.

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