Cellular localization of an HIV-1 antigen in subacute AIDS encephalitis using an improved double-labeling immunohistochemical method

Katsuhiro Kure, William D. Lyman, Karen M. Weidenheim, Dennis W Dickson

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Among 102 brains obtained from patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), 34 cases with subacute AIDS encephalitis were characterized by immunohistochemistry using an antibody that binds to a human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) envelope glycoprotein, gp41. This glycoprotein was detected in mononucleated and/ or multinucleated cells in 90% of adult and 50% of pediatric brains with subacute AIDS encephalitis. In addition, many gp41-positive cells with bipolar or multipolar processes were found in 10 cases, and these cells occurred most frequently in the basal ganglia and internal capsule. The phenotype of the gp41-positive cells was determined using an improved double-labeling immunohistochemical technique that employed beta-galactosidase and peroxidase conjugated reagents. Cell-type specific markers for double-labeling included: Ricinus communis agglutinin-1 (JRCA-1) for macrophages and microglia; Ulex europaeus agglutinin-1 for endothelium; anti-glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) for astrocytes; anti-amyloid precursor protein for neurons; and anti-leukocyte common antigen for leukocytes. Results of double-immunostaining revealed that gp41-positive cells of all morphologic types, including cells with bipolar or multipolar processes, were double-labeled with RCA-1, but not with markers for astrocytes, neurons, or endothelia. These findings support the contention that HIV-1 infection of the CNS is predominantly restricted to cells of the macrophage/microglia lineage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1085-1092
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1990
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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