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National NeuroAIDS Tissue Consortium


Dianne Rausch, Ph.D. and Collene Lawhorn, Ph.D.
Division of AIDS Research


The National NeuroAIDS Tissue Consortium (NNTC) was established in 1998 to support research to further understand HIV-associated central nervous system (CNS) dysfunction. This Consortium is currently co-funded by NINDS and NIDA and provides clinical data and biological specimens, including post-mortem tissue, to investigators interested in studying HIV-induced neuropathogenesis in the context of antiretroviral therapy (ART), and mechanisms impacting HIV cure efforts. Specifically, the NNTC serves to collect, store, and provide as a resource prospective clinical data, well characterized biospecimens and post-mortem tissue that were donated by people with HIV and HIV-negative volunteers.

This concept aims to continue funding the NNTC as a critical resource for catalyzing high priority research in NeuroHIV, including studies to understand the mechanisms of HIV neuropathogenesis, aging with long-term HIV and ART, and research towards an HIV cure.


HIV-associated neurological dysfunction continues in the ART era, impacted directly by HIV in the brain as well as long term treatment effects and the comorbidities of aging. The NNTC resource mirrors the changing face of the HIV epidemic and is helping to expand the knowledge base for NeuroHIV research globally. The NNTC’s four current clinical sites are responsible for recruitment, clinical assessment, and follow-up of the NNTC cohort, and collection, maintenance, and distribution of sample resources. The Data Coordinating Center works with the Clinical Sites to provide scientific expertise in epidemiology, management, and data repository capabilities, as well as expansion capability for broad distribution of specimens and data. Comprehensive medical, neuropsychological, psychiatric, and virological data are collected ante mortem from a diverse pool of volunteers that reflect current HIV disparities, postmortem samples are collected and clinically annotated, and the associated research data sets are maintained in the repository. The NNTC also includes biospecimens, clinical, and associated data from the multi-site observational study entitled, CNS HIV Antiretroviral Therapy Effects Research (CHARTER) which explored the changing presentation and persistence of HIV neurological complications in the context of antiretroviral therapy from 2002-2015.

To date 3,222 participants have enrolled in the NNTC program resulting in more than 25,000 biospecimens shipped to investigators around the globe. The Consortium is actively following 553 individuals with HIV, 195 of whom are on antiretroviral treatment with prolonged viral suppression. Virally suppressed cases provide exceptional utility for research on the eradication of HIV from persistent reservoirs.