Researchers reveal Mechanism for HIV-Associated Neurological Problems

Treatments for people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) have sparsely focused on reducing on the morbidity from neurodegenerative disorders. Research into HIV-associated neurological disorders have been quite a few but they haven’t shed much light on the exact molecular pathway underlying these. Even those patients who have access to antiretroviral therapy, their quality of life is largely hindered by neurocognitive disorders. These may surface as mild conditions to serious ones such as severe dementia.

HIV-Associated Neurological Disorders occur in about 50% of Cases

A team of researchers from Colorado State University, U.S., has unravelled a cellular pathway in which feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) affects HIV-associated neurological problems. The study found that the mechanism of FIV is similar to HIV in affecting the neuronal activity in cats. The findings will pave way for novel therapies that expand our understanding of neurobiological mechanisms underlying HIV-induced neuronal dysfunction in humans.

The work is published in the journal PLOS Biology on July 27, 2018.

HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders are found as frequently as 50% of the individuals infected with the AIDS virus. Hence, there was a pressing need to develop therapies to treat the neuronal dysfunction.

Virus in Cat Model provides Crucial Headway for understanding Mechanism

The researchers found that FIV and HIV has a common core cellular pathway that affects a specific protein kinase known as cGMP-dependent protein kinase, thereby altering neuronal activity. Though, combination antiretroviral therapy mitigates neuronal activity to an extent, understanding of the pathogenic mechanisms triggering the disorders is difficult in humans. According to the researcher who guided the research, evidences of the mechanism have been available for years, but there was a need to collate them with the help of a treatment model.

It may, however, take decades before effective treatments are found for these disorders, opine the authors of the study. The research work is funded by National Institutes of Health (NIH).

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