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J Virol. 1991 Jan;65(1):356-63.

Monocytotropic human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) variants detectable in all stages of HIV-1 infection lack T-cell line tropism and syncytium-inducing ability in primary T-cell culture.

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Central Laboratory, The Netherlands Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service, Amsterdam.


We previously demonstrated a correlation between the presence of syncytium-inducing (SI) human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) variants showing tropism for cell line H9 and the occurrence of rapid CD4 cell decline and progression to AIDS. In contrast, in stable asymptomatic individuals, we detected only isolates with low replication rates that were non-syncytium-inducing (NSI) and nontropic for the H9 cell line. Here, we investigated the monocytotropism of established HIV-1 isolates with a panel of isolates and with biological HIV-1 clones with distinct phenotypes. Moreover, the prevalence and biological phenotypes of monocytotropic HIV-1 variants in the course of HIV-1 infection were analyzed in comparative primary isolation studies on peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) and monocyte-derived macrophages (MDM). In cell-free infection studies with MDM from eight blood donors, 13 of 17 NSI isolates but only 4 of 14 SI isolates were able to infect MDM. NSI isolates also infected significantly more different donors than SI variants (median, 3 of 8 versus 0 of 8). This enhanced monocytotropism of NSI isolates was confirmed in experiments with biological HIV-1 clones with distinct phenotypes recovered from the same donor. To investigate the prevalence and biological phenotypes of monocytotropic variants in different stages of HIV-1 infection, sequential isolates from peripheral blood mononuclear cell samples from nine asymptomatic individuals, five of whom progressed to AIDS and seven of whom had a known time of seroconversion, were recovered by cocultivation with both PBL and MDM. Monocytotropic variants were obtained from 37 of 42 time points. All monocytotropic variants were NSI in PBL culture and non-T-cell-line tropic, even when SI, T-cell-line-tropic HIV-1 variants could be recovered from the same patient sample by cocultivation with PBL. We conclude that monocytotropic HIV-1 variants mostly have an NSI phenotype in PBL and, in contrast to SI variants, are present at all stages of HIV-1 infection. These results suggest an important role for monocytotropic variants in the persistence of HIV-1 infection.

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