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Trends Immunol. 2001 Nov;22(11):626-33.

The mucosal immune system: primary target for HIV infection and AIDS.

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Tulane Regional Primate Research Center, Tulane University Health Sciences Center, 18703 Three Rivers Rd, Covington, LA 70433, USA.


Despite intensive research, several questions remain regarding the pathogenesis of infection with HIV-1. Recently, it has been shown that simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) selectively targets and destroys specific subsets of CD4+ T cells that are abundant in mucosal tissues but rare in peripheral lymphoid tissues. This finding could be highly relevant in explaining a major paradox in the infection and elimination of CD4+ T cells during HIV infection: the progressive decline in the number of CD4+ T cells in the blood, despite the paucity of HIV-infected cells in this tissue. This article discusses the hypothesis that infection with HIV and SIV, and the resulting disease, is governed by the state of cellular activation and the expression of chemokine receptors by specific subsets of CD4+ T cells residing in mucosal lymphoid tissues, rather than those found in the peripheral blood or lymph nodes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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