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Papers of the Week

2022 Jun 16




Aberrant Synaptic Pruning in CNS Diseases: A Critical Player in HIV-Associated Neurological Dysfunction?


Even in the era of effective antiretroviral therapies, people living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) are burdened with debilitating neurological dysfunction, such as HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) and HIV-associated pain, for which there are no FDA approved treatments. Disruption to the neural circuits of cognition and pain in the form of synaptic degeneration is implicated in developing these dysfunctions. Glia-mediated synaptic pruning is a mechanism of structural plasticity in the healthy central nervous system (CNS), but recently, it has been discovered that dysregulated glia-mediated synaptic pruning is the cause of synaptic degeneration, leading to maladaptive plasticity and cognitive deficits in multiple diseases of the CNS. Considering the essential contribution of activated glial cells during the development of HAND and HIV-associated pain, it is possible that glia-mediated synaptic pruning is the causative mechanism of synaptic degeneration induced by HIV. This review will analyze the known examples of synaptic pruning during disease in order to better understand how this mechanism could contribute to the progression of HAND and HIV-associated pain.