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Virology. 1994 Oct;204(1):297-303.

The biological phenotype of HIV-1 is usually retained during and after sexual transmission.

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Department of Microbiology and Tumorbiology, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.


The biological phenotype of HIV-1 isolates from 21 subjects with primary HIV-1 infection was determined in primary lymphocytes and monocyte-derived macrophages as well as in three T-cell lines (MT-2, HUT78, and C8166). Seven isolates (33%) replicated on at least one cell line and were classified as rapid/high (n = 6) or intermediate (n = 1), while 14 isolates (67%) did not replicate in cell lines and were classified as slow/low. All isolates replicated in primary monocyte-derived macrophage cultures. Studies on 10 pairs consisting of index case and seroconverting sexual partner showed that the biological phenotype of HIV-1 was unchanged in nine transmissions, including 5 pairs where a rapid/high virus was transmitted. Most individuals (5 of 6) infected by a rapid/high virus retained this phenotype after seroconversion. These individuals also had significantly lower CD4 lymphocyte counts 1-3 years after infection. Thus, in contrast to what has been suggested by others, we found that HIV-1 variants with rapid/high phenotype were usually not suppressed, neither during sexual transmission nor after seroconversion in the new host. These findings have important implications for the understanding of HIV-1 transmission and pathogenesis as well as for vaccine design.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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