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Immunol Rev. 2001 Apr;180:168-76.

The supportive role of complement in HIV pathogenesis.

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Institute of Hygiene and Social Medicine, Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of AIDS Research, University Innsbruck, Austria.


This review focuses on interactions of HIV with the first-line defence of native immunity, the complement system. In all body compartments tested so far, HIV meets complement. Activation of the complement system results in deposition of C3 fragments on the viral surface, but in contrast to other pathogens, most of HIV is not or is only poorly lysed by membrane attack complexes. To survive complement-mediated lysis, HIV has not only developed resistance mechanisms, but uses opsonisation with complement fragments for its own advantage. Opsonised virions interact with complement receptor-expressing cells, which are either subsequently infected with high efficiency or retain viral particles on their surface, which promotes transmission of virus to other permissive cells. Our knowledge of these mechanisms has increased enormously over the past few years. A complete understanding of these complex interactions of HIV with the complement system opens new perspectives for development of alternative therapeutic strategies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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