Treating viruses in the brain: Perspectives from NeuroAIDS

Melanie R. Nicol, Mary Peace McRae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Aggressive use of antiretroviral therapy has led to excellent viral suppression within the systemic circulation. However, despite these advances, HIV reservoirs still persist. The persistence of HIV within the brain can lead to the development of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND). Although the causes of the development of neurocognitive disorders is likely multifactorial, the inability of antiretroviral therapy to achieve adequate concentrations within the brain is likely a major contributing factor. Information about antiretroviral drug exposure within the brain is limited. Clinically, drug concentrations within the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) are used as markers for central nervous system (CNS) drug exposure. However, significant differences exist; CSF concentration is often a poor predictor of drug exposure within the brain. This article reviews the current information regarding antiretroviral exposure within the brain in humans as well as preclinical animals and discusses the impact of co-morbidities on antiretroviral efficacy within the brain. A more thorough understanding of antiretroviral penetration into the brain is an essential component to the development of better therapeutic strategies for neuroAIDS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number135691
JournalNeuroscience Letters
StatePublished - Mar 23 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by funds from the National Institutes of Health (NIH): R21 DA045630 (MPM), P30 DA033934 Pilot Award (MPM), R21 NS108344 (MRN)

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • Antiretroviral
  • Brain
  • Concentration
  • HIV-associated neurocognitive dysfunction
  • Human immunodeficiency virus
  • NeuroAIDS


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