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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1992 Mar 1;89(5):1582-6.

Primary cultures of endothelial cells from the human liver sinusoid are permissive for human immunodeficiency virus type 1.

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Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale U74, Strasbourg, France.


Human endothelial cells isolated from hepatic sinusoids were infected in vitro with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). An early sign of infection occurring in the culture was the formation of multinucleated cells. By double-labeling immunofluorescence, 5-15% of the cells recognized as endothelial cells owing to the presence of von Willebrand factor were found to contain HIV p24 and gp120 antigens after 2 weeks. Reverse transcriptase activity was released into the medium, and different steps in the process of viral budding were observed by electron microscopy. The virus produced by the endothelial cells was found to be infectious for CEM cells, a human T-cell line. CD4 molecules are present at the surface of the endothelial cells, as demonstrated by immunogold-silver staining and backscattered electron imaging. Treatment with an anti-CD4 antibody abolished productive infection of the sinusoidal endothelial cells. The possibility that endothelial cells of the liver sinusoid are infected in vivo with HIV remains to be clearly shown.

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