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Etty N. Benveniste

, Lisa N. Akhtar

, and Brandi J. Baker

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date: 07 July 2020

Astrocytes are the most abundant glial cell type in the CNS and represent a diverse population of cells. In the past, the direct role of astrocytes in HIV-1-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) has been controversial, due to the belief that HIV-1 infection of astrocytes was relatively rare. Convincing data now exist that astrocyte infection can be widespread, especially in HIV-associated dementia. When latently infected with HIV-1, astrocytes release toxic mediators that cause apoptosis in uninfected astrocytes and neurons. In fact, a strong association exists between astorocyte apoptosis and rapid progression of dementia. Furthermore, HIV-1 infected astrocytes produce high levels of CCL2 and glutamate, which play an important role in HAND. These and other findings implicate HIV-1 infected astrocytes in HAND pathogenesis. This chapter discusses the normal functioning of astrocytes and, in particular, how this function becomes perturbed during HIV-1 disease.

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