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J Virol. 2007 Dec;81(24):13486-98. Epub 2007 Oct 3.

Dendritic cells are less susceptible to human immunodeficiency virus type 2 (HIV-2) infection than to HIV-1 infection.

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  • 1MRC Human Immunology Unit, Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 9DS, United Kingdom.


Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection of dendritic cells (DCs) has been documented in vivo and may be an important contributor to HIV-1 transmission and pathogenesis. HIV-1-specific CD4(+) T cells respond to HIV antigens presented by HIV-1-infected DCs and in this process become infected, thereby providing a mechanism through which HIV-1-specific CD4(+) T cells could become preferentially infected in vivo. HIV-2 disease is attenuated with respect to HIV-1 disease, and host immune responses are thought to be contributory. Here we investigated the susceptibility of primary myeloid DCs (mDCs) and plasmacytoid DCs (pDCs) to infection by HIV-2. We found that neither CCR5-tropic primary HIV-2 isolates nor a lab-adapted CXCR4-tropic HIV-2 strain could efficiently infect mDCs or pDCs, though these viruses could infect primary CD4(+) T cells in vitro. HIV-2-exposed mDCs were also incapable of transferring virus to autologous CD4(+) T cells. Despite this, we found that HIV-2-specific CD4(+) T cells contained more viral DNA than memory CD4(+) T cells of other specificities in vivo. These data suggest that either infection of DCs is not an important contributor to infection of HIV-2-specific CD4(+) T cells in vivo or that infection of DCs by HIV-2 occurs at a level that is undetectable in vitro. The frequent carriage of HIV-2 DNA within HIV-2-specific CD4(+) T cells, however, does not appear to be incompatible with preserved numbers and functionality of HIV-2-specific CD4(+) T cells in vivo, suggesting that additional mechanisms contribute to maintenance of HIV-2-specific CD4(+) T-cell help in vivo.

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