Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scavenger cells could be key to treating HIV-related dementia

15.09.2005


Understanding macrophages could lead to ways to prevent HIV-associated dementia



Bacteria-eating cells that generally fight infection may cause dementia in HIV patients, University of Florida and University of California at San Francisco researchers have found.

Macrophages, long-living white blood cells often considered the scavengers of the immune system, actually may damage a part of the brain where many memories are stored in their attempt to attack the virus there, according to findings reported in the Journal of Virology this month.


Researchers found that HIV-infected macrophages in the brain continuously travel to the temporal lobe, a part of the brain Alzheimer’s disease often damages. Because the virus mutates nearly 100 times faster in the temporal lobe than other parts of the brain, attacking macrophages migrate there in a constant stream, causing harmful inflammation.

Nearly 15 percent of HIV patients develop dementia as their disease progresses. But understanding the routes macrophage cells take in the brain could help researchers find ways to block the migration and prevent HIV-associated dementia, said Marco Salemi, Ph.D, a UF assistant professor of pathology and immunology and an author of the study.

"In a way, it’s not the virus that directly causes the dementia," Salemi said. "It’s the fact that there is this continuous migration of infected macrophages to the temporal lobe. The virus mutates much faster there, the macrophages keep accumulating and keep creating this inflammation that leads to dementia."

Macrophages also may explain why current drugs cannot kill the virus that causes AIDS.

Researchers have known for years how HIV replicates in T cells, also part of the immune system. But most are just beginning to understand how the virus affects macrophages, said Michael S. McGrath, M.D., Ph.D, a UCSF professor of pathology and laboratory medicine who co-authored the study.

"It’s likely the oldest (form of the) virus lives in a macrophage in the brain and most virus strains evolve from that," McGrath said. "Imagine having cells, already infected, that live as long as you do."

Current antiretroviral drugs block HIV from replicating in new T cells, but don’t kill the virus in infected macrophages. And the drugs cannot stop the virus from evolving into new forms, McGrath said. Because the virus mutates faster than other cells in the body, it also can develop resistance to these drugs, Salemi said.

Even the HIV already in an infected person’s brain is not one single virus, but rather populations of slightly different viruses that infect different parts of the brain, the findings show.

"We agree there are different strains that populate different regions of the brain," said Francisco Gonzalez-Scarano, M.D., chairman of the University of Pennsylvania neurology department. "We’ve done similar studies in monkeys."

To obtain their findings, the researchers studied different regions of the brain of a person who died with HIV-associated dementia using specimens from the AIDS and Cancer Specimen Resource at UCSF. They also used a new computer-based research tool to study the results. Dubbed phylodynamic analysis, this new method links traditional ways of studying the virus to give researchers a more comprehensive understanding, which Salemi says is crucial to analyzing the ever-changing disease.

"If we really want to understand what happens to a person infected with this disease, we need to develop new tools," he said. "We can put together all these different resources and describe how the virus changes over time and try to understand why this particular damage happens"

But these results are just a first step, Salemi said. The team is now analyzing brains from 10 people, some who died with HIV-associated dementia and others who did not.

The well-known cocktail of antiretroviral drugs prescribed to most HIV patients has cut the number of HIV-associated dementia cases reported each year, Gonzalez-Scarano said. However, this is because the drugs slow the progression of the disease, he said. Patients still have the same chance of developing dementia later, as the disease advances.

That’s one of the reasons why the researchers say developing drugs that target macrophages as well as T cells is important. These drugs could provide better treatments for dementia and potentially lead to a way to "eradicate HIV-1 infection," the study states.

"You can’t cure (HIV) with antiretroviral therapy (alone)," McGrath said.

April Frawley Birdwell | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.health.ufl.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Flavins keep a handy helper in their pocket
25.04.2018 | University of Freiburg

nachricht Complete skin regeneration system of fish unraveled
24.04.2018 | Tokyo Institute of Technology

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.

Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Getting electrons to move in a semiconductor

25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Reconstructing what makes us tick

25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Cheap 3-D printer can produce self-folding materials

25.04.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>