Potential role for white matter lysosome expansion in HIV-associated dementia

Benjamin B. Gelman, Vicki M. Soukup, Charles E. Holzer, Roderic H. Fabian, Kimberly W. Schuenke, Michael J. Keherly, Frances J. Richey, Christopher J. Lahart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Expansion of the lysosomal apparatus occurs in subcortical white matter in brains from persons with AIDS. This study examined whether HIV-associated subcortical dementia (HAD) is significantly related to this lysosomal anomaly. Brain cortex and adjacent white matter from the middle frontal gyrus were obtained from the National NeuroAIDS Tissue Consortium. Lysosomal hydrolase activity was assayed in 57 subjects who underwent neuropsychological testing within 6 months prior to autopsy. Decedents were evaluated from 4 geographical sites in the United States: Galveston/Houston, Texas (n = 36), Los Angeles, California (n = 5), New York, New York (n = 5), and San Diego, California (n = 11). Increased β-glucuronidase activity, a representative lysosomal glycosidase, was correlated with the amount of neurocognitive impairment. Significant correlation was present in 5 of 7 functional testing domains, including some that draw upon frontal lobe output (r = 0.419; P < 0.002). The biochemical anomaly was negligible in cerebral cortex and cerebrospinal fluid and was not correlated with brain dysfunction in those compartments. Glycosidase activation was associated significantly with increased HIV RNA concentration in brain tissue (r = 0.469; P < 0.021) and possibly with HIV RNA in cerebrospinal fluid (r = 0.266; P < 0.067). HIV RNA in blood plasma was not correlated. These results support the suggestion that abnormal metabolism in white matter glial cells contributes to cognitive slowing in persons with HAD. Because membrane turnover is routed through the endosome-lysosome apparatus, these data are in agreement with brain spectroscopic data that have suggested that there is an increase in membrane turnover in white matter glia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)422-425
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Aids
  • Dementia
  • HIV encephalitis
  • Lysosome
  • Myelin
  • White matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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