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Immunity. 1995 Jan;2(1):25-36.

HIV-1-induced thymocyte depletion is associated with indirect cytopathogenicity and infection of progenitor cells in vivo.

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  • 1HIV Group, Systemix, Incorporated, Palo Alto, California 94304, USA.


Direct and indirect cytopathic mechanisms have been proposed to account for the loss of CD4+ T cells after infection with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). We report here that HIV-1 infection of the human thymus in vivo results in thymocyte depletion by at least two different mechanisms. Thymocytes within multiple stages of differentiation are induced to die of apoptosis; most of these cells are uninfected. Additionally, thymopoiesis is interrupted by direct infection and destruction of intrathymic CD3-CD4+CD8- progenitor cells. These mechanisms are differentially induced by distinct isolates of HIV-1.

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