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Scientists Uncover Cause of AIDS Related Dementia
April 21, 2004 2:20 p.m. ET
York City) Researchers have uncovered an HIV/AIDS mystery that
about a quarter of the people infected with the disease.
at Philadelphia's Thomas Jefferson University,
have discovered that the virus produces proteins that
brain cells to die.
twenty years doctors have been trying to determine why so many
develop AIDS Related Dementia, and why there are not warning
it is coming on.
other brain infections such as meningitis and herpes, HIV
hardly any brain inflammation or white blood cell increase.
Thomas Jefferson team has found that HIV causes neurons - or
cells - to die, leading to wastage of the brain.
is "extremely unusual" and different to other infectious
according to Dr Roger Pomerantz, at Jefferson Medical
theory has previously been that HIV infects brain cells called
and miroglia, which then produce cytokines and
Pomerantz's team tested whether the virus itself caused the nerve
to die, or whether this was caused by substances produced by
looked at brain cells and T-lymphocyte blood cells, taking the
out of some of them and leaving it in others. When applied to
nerve cells, they found they were killed when the virus and its
we looked at T-cells, the only thing that killed neurons was
virus," Pomerantz said..
the virus is removed, nothing from the T-cells would kill
investigating the neurons themselves, they found two well-
pathways to cell death, which were activated by proteins
Pomerantz said: "We feel that it is mainly the virus and viral
causing the neuronal cell death, and may now know the
would allow the development of treatments which prevent the
damaging the neurons, he said.
Pomerantz's research appears in the Proceedings of the National
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