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PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e37511. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0037511. Epub 2012 May 23.

An initial in vitro investigation into the potential therapeutic use of SupT1 cells to prevent AIDS in HIV-seropositive individuals.

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  • Section of Infectious Diseases and Immunopathology, Department of Clinical Sciences, Luigi Sacco Hospital, University of Milan, Milan, Italy. jonathan.fior82@gmail.com


HIV infection usually leads to a progressive decline in number and functionality of CD4+ T lymphocytes, resulting in AIDS development. In this study, I investigated the strategy of using inoculated SupT1 cells to move infection from HIV-1 X4 strains toward the inoculated cells, which should theoretically prevent infection and depletion of normal CD4+ T cells, preventing the development of AIDS-related pathologies. Interestingly, the persistent in vitro replication in SupT1 cells renders the virus less cytopathic and more sensitive to antibody-mediated neutralization, suggesting that replication of the virus in the inoculated SupT1 cells may have a vaccination effect in the long run. In order to mimic the scenario of a therapy in which SupT1 cells are inoculated in an HIV-seropositive patient, I used infected SupT1/PBMC cocultures and a series of control experiments. Infections were done with equal amounts of the wild type HIV-1 LAI virus. The SupT1 CD4+CD8+ T cell population was distinguished from the PBMC CD4+CD8- T cell population by FACS analysis. The results of this study show that the virus-mediated killing of primary CD4+ T cells in the SupT1/PBMC cocultures was significantly delayed, suggesting that the preferential infection of SupT1 cells can induce the virus to spare primary CD4+ T cells from infection and depletion. The preferential infection of SupT1 cells can be explained by the higher viral tropism for the SupT1 cell line. In conclusion, this study demonstrates that it's possible in an in vitro system to use SupT1 cells to prevent HIV infection of primary CD4+ T cells, suggesting that further exploration of the SupT1 cell line as a cell-based therapy against HIV-1 may prove worthwhile.

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