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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Sep 27;102(39):13974-9. Epub 2005 Sep 20.

Regulation of TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand on primary CD4+ T cells by HIV-1: role of type I IFN-producing plasmacytoid dendritic cells.

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  • 1Experimental Immunology Branch, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL), a member of the TNF superfamily, was suggested to contribute to HIV-1 pathogenesis by inducing CD4+ T cell death characteristic of AIDS. We previously reported HIV-1-mediated, TRAIL-induced apoptosis in primary CD4+ T cells in vitro and observed elevated levels of plasma TRAIL in HIV-1-infected patients. The present study elucidates the unresolved mechanism by which HIV-1 induces TRAIL expression on primary CD4+ T cells. We demonstrate that the expression of TRAIL by primary CD4+ T cells is regulated by IFN-alpha that is produced by HIV-1-stimulated plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs). We also found that IFN-induced TRAIL is mediated by signal transducers and activators of transcription 1 and 2. We show that IFN-alpha production by HIV-1-activated pDCs is blocked by an early viral entry inhibitor of CD4-gp120 binding, but not by inhibitors of viral coreceptor binding. Our in vitro data are supported by the demonstration that anti-IFN-alpha and -beta Abs inhibit apoptosis and TRAIL expression in CD4+ T cells from HIV-1-infected patients. Our findings suggest a potential unique role of pDCs in the immunopathogenesis of HIV-1 infection by inducing the death molecule TRAIL.

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