It is well established that infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) leads to immune suppression. Less well known is the fact that long-term, progressive HIV disease is associated with the development of cognitive deficits. Since the introduction of combined antiretroviral therapy (cART), the clinical presentation of HIV infection has evolved into a chronic illness with very low levels of viral replication and chronic immune activation, with compliant affected individuals surviving for decades with a high quality of life. Despite these advances, many HIV-infected individuals develop some degree of neurodegeneration and cognitive impairment. The underlying pathophysiological mechanisms are not well understood, and there are no effective treatments. Thus, there is an unmet need for animal models that enable the study of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) and the testing of new therapeutic approaches to combat them. Here, we review the pros and cons of existing mouse models of HIV infection for addressing these aims and propose a detailed strategy for developing a new mouse model of HIV infection.
- Received December 12, 2011.
- Accepted February 23, 2012.
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