We examined the immunopathology and the expression of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) in lumbosacral dorsal root ganglia (DRGs) from 16 patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and 10 HIV-1-seronegative controls. Using in situ hybridization, we detected HIV-1 RNA in a few perivascular cells in DRGs from five of 16 AIDS patients (31%). In addition, using polymerase chain reaction, we detected HIV-1 DNA more frequently in DRGs from four of five AIDS patients (80%) examined. We detected interleukin-6 (IL-6) immunoreactivity in endothelial cells in DRGs from seven of 16 AIDS patients (44%) but from none of 10 HIV-1-seronegative controls (0%). We found more nodules of Nageotte, CD8+ T lymphocytes, and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1)-positive endothelial cells and mononuclear cells in DRGs from AIDS patients than in DRGs from controls. Increased numbers of nodules of Nageotte in DRGs of AIDS patients were associated with detection of HIV-1 RNA by in situ hybridization and detection of IL-6 by immunohistochemistry. We conclude that low levels of replication of HIV-1 through cytotoxic T lymphocytes or expression of cytokines, may play a role in the subclinical degeneration of sensory neurons frequently observed in DRGs of AIDS patients.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology