Detection of HIV-1 gene sequences in hippocampal neurons isolated from postmortem AIDS brains by laser capture microdissection

Jorge Torres-Muñoz, Patricia Stockton, Noe Tacoronte, Brenda Roberts, Robert R. Maronpot, Carol Kaiser Petito

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

95 Scopus citations


We employed laser capture microdissection to remove individual pyramidal neurons from the CA1, CA3, and CA4 regions of formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded hippocampus from 8 AIDS brains and 2 HIV-1-seronegative normal brains. We amplified HIV-1 gag and nef gene sequences using separate, double round PCR reactions for each of the primer sets. In all 3 hippocampal regions, amplification efficiency was best with sequence length between 284 and 324 bp; HIV-1 nef gene sequences were more common than HIV-1 gag sequences; and rank order for percent positive amplification was CA3 > CA4 > CA1 samples. These results are the first to detect HIV-1 gene sequences in microdissected human tissue. They indicate that brain neurons in vivo contain HIV-1 DNA sequences consistent with latent infection by this virus, and suggest that neurons display a selective vulnerability for HIV infection. Neuronal HIV infection could contribute to neuronal injury and death or act as a potential viral reservoir if reactivated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)885-892
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001



  • Hippocampus
  • HIV
  • HIV encephalitis
  • HIV-associated dementia
  • Laser capture microdissection
  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Neuroscience(all)

Cite this