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J Virol. 2008 Apr;82(8):3997-4006. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01545-07. Epub 2008 Feb 6.

Human immunodeficiency virus viremia induces plasmacytoid dendritic cell activation in vivo and diminished alpha interferon production in vitro.

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LIR, NIAID, NIH, Bldg. 10, Rm. 11B-09, 10 Center Dr., MSC 1876, Bethesda, MD 20892-1876, USA.


Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection has been associated with perturbations of plasmacytoid dendritic cells (PDC), including diminished frequencies in the peripheral blood and reduced production of type I interferons (IFNs) in response to in vitro stimulation. However, recent data suggest a paradoxical increase in production of type 1 interferons in vivo in HIV-infected patients compared to uninfected controls. Using a flow cytometric assay to detect IFN-alpha-producing cells within unseparated peripheral blood mononuclear cells, we observed that short-term interruptions of antiretroviral therapy are sufficient to result in significantly reduced IFN-alpha production by PDC in vitro in response to CpG A ligands or inactivated HIV particles. The primary cause of diminished IFN-alpha production was reduced responsiveness of PDC to de novo stimulation, not diminished per cell IFN-alpha production or migration of cells to lymphoid organs. Real-time PCR analysis of purified PDC from patients prior to and during treatment interruptions revealed that active HIV-1 replication is associated with upregulation of type I IFN-stimulated gene expression. Treatment of hepatitis C virus-infected patients with IFN-alpha2b and ribavirin for hepatitis C virus infection resulted in a profound suppression of de novo IFN-alpha production in response to CpG A or inactivated HIV particles, similar to the response observed in HIV-infected patients. Together, these results suggest that diminished production of type I interferons in vitro by PDC from HIV-1-infected patients may not represent diminished interferon production in vivo. Rather, diminished function in vitro is likely a consequence of prior activation via type I interferons or HIV virions in vivo.

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