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Cell Immunol. 2004 Aug;230(2):65-80.

Alterations in mast cell function and survival following in vitro infection with human immunodeficiency viruses-1 through CXCR4.

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Clinical Immunology Section, Laboratory of Immunology, National Institute on Aging, NIH, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA.


HIV-1 infection leads to a disease that attacks the central regulatory mechanisms of the immune response. As mucosal tissue is one of the primary sites infected with HIV in vivo, we examined the effects of HIV exposure on human mast cells, important components of mucosal defense. Using the human mast cell line, HMC-1, which expresses CXCR4 but not CCR5 on the cell surface, we found that several HIV-1 X4 tropic lab (IIIB, RF) and primary isolates but not R5 (BAL, ADA) isolates productively infected these cells. Furthermore, stem cell factor-dependent mast cells derived from primary fetal liver or cord blood cultures were also productively infected with both X4 and R5 HIV-1 strains. Infection was blocked at the level of viral entry using monoclonal antibodies to CXCR4 and CD4. Treatment of HMC-1 with TNF-alpha and TGF-beta stimulated cell surface expression of CCR5 and up-regulated expression of both CCR5 and CXCR4 on primary mast cells, leading to increased susceptibility to both X4 and R5 viral isolates. HIV-1 infection also resulted in histamine release from these mast cells, most due in part to HIV-mediated cell death. These results demonstrate that X4 viruses can use CD4 and the CXCR4 receptor to infect mast cells, suggesting that mast cell-T cell interactions may contribute to HIV mediated immune dysfunction in the mucosa.

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