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Nat Med. 2009 Aug;15(8):886-92. doi: 10.1038/nm.2006. Epub 2009 Aug 2.

Persistence of HIV-1 receptor-positive cells after HSV-2 reactivation is a potential mechanism for increased HIV-1 acquisition.

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  • 1Vaccine and Infectious Disease Institute, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington, USA.


To explore the mechanism by which herpes simplex virus (HSV)-2 infection is related to HIV-1 acquisition, we conducted in situ analysis of the cellular infiltrate from sequential biopsies of HSV-2 lesions from patients on and off antiviral therapy. CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells and a mixed population of plasmacytoid and myeloid dendritic cells (DCs), including cells expressing the C-type lectin receptor DC-SIGN, persisted at sites of HSV-2 reactivation for months after healing, even with daily antiviral therapy. The CD4(+) T cells that persisted reacted to HSV-2 antigen, were enriched for expression of the chemokine receptor CCR5, and were contiguous to DCs expressing the interleukin-3 receptor CD123 or DC-SIGN. Ex vivo infection with a CCR5-tropic strain of HIV-1 revealed greater concentrations of integrated HIV-1 DNA in cells derived from healed genital lesion biopsies than in cells from control skin biopsies. The persistence and enrichment of HIV receptor-positive inflammatory cells in the genitalia help explain the inability of anti-HSV-2 therapy to reduce HIV acquisition.

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