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Mol Immunol. 2005 Feb;42(2):195-212.

Macrophages and HIV-1: dangerous liaisons.

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  • 1Human Virology Unit, DIBIT, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan, Italy.


HIV-1, like the other lentiviruses, has evolved the ability to infect nondividing cells including macrophages. HIV-1 replication in monocytes/macrophages entails peculiar features and differs in many respects from that in CD4 T lymphocytes. HIV-1 exhibits different tropism for CD4 T cells and macrophages. The virus can enter macrophages via several routes. Mitosis is not required for nuclear import of viral DNA or for its integration into the host cell genome. Specific cellular factors are required for HIV-1 transcription in macrophages. The assembly and budding of viral particles in macrophages take place in late endosomal compartments. Viral particles can use the exosome pathway to exit cells. Given their functions in host defence against pathogens and the regulation of the immune response plus their permissivity to HIV-1 infection, monocytes/macrophages exert a dual role in HIV infection. They contribute to the establishment and persistence of HIV-1 infection, and may activate surrounding T cells favouring their infection. Furthermore, monocytes/macrophages act as a Trojan horse to transmit HIV-1 to the central nervous system. They also exhibit antiviral activity and express many molecules that inhibit HIV-1 replication. Activated microglia and macrophages may also exert a neurotrophic and neuroprotective effect on infected brain regulating glutamate metabolism or by secretion of neurotrophins. This review will discuss specific aspects of viral replication in monocytes/macrophages and the role of their interactions with the cellular environment in HIV-1 infection swinging between protection and pathogenesis.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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