Human immunodeficiency virus infection of dorsal root ganglion neurons detected by polymerase chain reaction in situ hybridization
A predominantly sensory peripheral neuropathy is common with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, but the cause is unknown. Formalin-fixed dorsal root ganglia (DRG), obtained at postmortem from patients with neuropathy and HIV infection and from control subjects, were examined for the presence of HIV DNA by using polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-amplified in situ hybridization. Viral message RNA was detected using reverse transcription in situ PCR with gag-specific primers. HIV DNA and RNA sequences were detected in many satellite cells, mononuclear cells, and occasional neurons in 5 of 5 patients with HIV and neuropathy. HIV DNA was detected only in rare interstitial and satellite cells from 3 of 4 patients with HIV infection without neuropathy and was not detected in 6 patients without HIV infection. HIV infection of DRG neurons and supporting cells may contribute to the HIV-associated sensory neuropathy.