A hallmark of HIV-1 infection is chronic inflammation, which plays a significant role in disease pathogenesis. Acute HIV infection induces robust inflammatory responses, which are insufficient to prevent or eliminate virus in mucosal tissues. While establishment of viral set-point is coincident with downregulation of acute innate responses, systemic inflammatory responses persist during the course of chronic HIV infection. Since the introduction of combination antiviral therapy (cART), most HIV-1+
individuals can suppress viremia under detection levels for decades. However, chronic immune activation persists and has been postulated to cause HIV associated non-AIDS complications (HANA). Importantly, inflammatory cytokines and activation markers associated with macrophages are strongly and selectively correlated with the incidence of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND), cardiovascular dysfunctions (CVD) and other HANA conditions. In this review, we discuss the roles of macrophages in facilitating viral persistence and contributing to generation of persistent inflammatory responses.
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