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J Infect Dis. 1994 Apr;169(4):746-53.

Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 causes productive infection of macrophages in primary placental cell cultures.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia.


To characterize the role of the placenta in vertical transmission of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), the susceptibility of primary human placental cultures and of transformed trophoblast cell lines to infection by several HIV-1 isolates was examined. Placental cultures supported the replication of all strains tested, including lymphocyte-, macrophage-, and amphotropic isolates. All viruses replicated to modest levels, with production of both viral antigen and infectious virus in the culture supernatants. Placental cells demonstrated a pattern of permissiveness for HIV-1 isolates distinct from that seen with lymphocytes, blood-derived macrophages, or T cell lines. Immunofluorescent staining showed that 5%-10% of the cultured placental cells expressed viral antigens, and double labeling revealed that the HIV-positive cells were macrophages not trophoblasts. None of the trophoblast cell line (JEG-3, Jar, BeWo, HP-W1) could be infected by HIV. These results support the hypothesis that infection of the placenta could play a role in maternofetal transmission of HIV-1 and suggest that the placental macrophage is likely to be the primary cell type responsible.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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