One of the common neurological complications in patients with the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a subacute encephalopathy with progressive dementia. By using the techniques of cocultivation for virus isolation, in situ hybridization, immunocytochemistry, and transmission electron microscopy, the identity of an important cell type that supports replication of the AIDS retrovirus in brain tissue was determined in two affected individuals. These cells were mononucleated and multinucleated macrophages that actively synthesized viral RNA and produced progeny virions in the brains of the patients. Infected brain macrophages may serve as a reservoir for virus and as a vehicle for viral dissemination in the infected host.

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