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J Virol. 2001 Mar;75(6):2706-9.

Macrophage tropism of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 facilitates in vivo escape from cytotoxic T-lymphocyte pressure.

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  • 1Institute of Virology, University Hospital Rotterdam, 3015 GE Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


Early after seroconversion, macrophage-tropic human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) variants are predominantly found, even when a mixture of macrophage-tropic and non-macrophage-tropic variants was transmitted. For virus contracted by sexual transmission, this is presently explained by selection at the port of entry, where macrophages are infected and T cells are relatively rare. Here we explore an additional mechanism to explain the selection of macrophage-tropic variants in cases where the mucosa is bypassed during transmission, such as blood transfusion, needle-stick accidents, or intravenous drug abuse. With molecularly cloned primary isolates of HIV-1 in irradiated mice that had been reconstituted with a high dose of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells, we found that a macrophage-tropic HIV-1 clone escaped more efficiently from specific cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) pressure than its non-macrophage-tropic counterpart. We propose that CTLs favor the selective outgrowth of macrophage-tropic HIV-1 variants because infected macrophages are less susceptible to CTL activity than infected T cells.

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