Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title

Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology




The question of whether the human brain is an anatomical site of persistent HIV-1 infection during suppressive antiretroviral therapy (ART) is critical, but remains unanswered. The presence of virus in the brains of HIV patients whose viral load is effectively suppressed would demonstrate not only the potential for CNS to act as an anatomical HIV reservoir, but also the urgent need to understand the factors contributing to persistent HIV behind the blood-brain barrier. Here, we investigated for the first time the presence of cells harboring HIV DNA and RNA in the brains from subjects with undetectable plasma viral load and sustained viral suppression, as identified by the National NeuroAIDS Tissue Consortium. Using new, highly sensitive in situ hybridization techniques, RNAscope and DNAscope, in combination with immunohistochemistry, we were able to detect HIV-1 in the brains of all virally suppressed cases and found that brain macrophages and microglia, but not astrocytes, were the cells harboring HIV DNA in the brain. This study demonstrated that HIV reservoirs persist in brain macrophages/microglia during suppressive ART, which cure/treatment strategies will need to focus on targeting.


© The Author(s) 2018.

Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

This is an "Early Release Article."

Original Publication Citation

Ko, A., Kang, G., Hattler, J. B., Galadima, H. I., Zhang, J., Li, Q., & Kim, W. K. (2018). Macrophages but not astrocytes harbor hiv DNA in the brains of HIV-1-infected aviremic individuals on suppressive antiretroviral therapy. Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology, 1-10. doi:10.1007/s11481-018-9809-2