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Retrovirology. 2008 Dec 31;5:119. doi: 10.1186/1742-4690-5-119.

Human prostate supports more efficient replication of HIV-1 R5 than X4 strains ex vivo.

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Inserm, U625, Rennes, France.



In order to determine whether human prostate can be productively infected by HIV-1 strains with different tropism, and thus represent a potential source of HIV in semen, an organotypic culture of prostate from men undergoing prostatic adenomectomy for benign prostate hypertrophy (BPH) was developed. The presence of potential HIV target cells in prostate tissues was investigated using immunohistochemistry. The infection of prostate explants following exposures with HIV-1 R5, R5X4 and X4 strains was analyzed through the measure of RT activity in culture supernatants, the quantification of HIV DNA in the explants and the detection of HIV RNA+ cells in situ.


The overall prostate characteristics were retained for 21/2 weeks in culture. Numerous potential HIV-1 target cells were detected in the prostate stroma. Whilst HIV-1 R5SF162 strain consistently productively infected prostatic T lymphocytes and macrophages, the prototypic X4IIIB strain and a primary R5X4 strain showed less efficient replication in this organ.


The BPH prostate is a site of HIV-1 R5 replication that could contribute virus to semen. A limited spreading of HIV-1 X4 and R5X4 in this organ could participate to the preferential sexual transmission of HIV-1 R5 strains.

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