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Res Virol. 1993 Jan-Feb;144(1):59-67.

Distribution and infection of Langerhans cells in the skin of HIV-infected healthy subjects and AIDS patients.

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Senckenbergisches Zentrum, J.W. Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.


The in situ content of cells of the reticuloendothelial system and lymphatic cells was examined in the skin of eight symptom-free HIV-positive individuals, three AIDS patients and eleven healthy immunocompetent volunteers. The epidermis was obtained in vivo by the suction blister technique. The numbers of CD68+, CD3+, CD8+, CD25-(IL2R)+ and HLA-DR+ intraepidermal cells proved to be independent of the number of CD4+ peripheral blood lymphocytes. At the same time, the intraepidermal concentrations of these cells were generally low in symptom-free HIV-infected individuals. The strong inverse correlation between the number of epidermal Langerhans cells (LC) and the severity of immunodeficiency was quantitatively confirmed; an increase in LC in symptom-free HIV-infected individuals was found. Thus, the reduction in these cells which was observed in the epidermis of AIDS patients began at a significantly elevated level. In contrast to results from other studies, in AIDS patients, in the present study, the concentration of epidermal LC did not differ significantly from that of healthy immunocompetent volunteers. The immunohistochemical technique can be as effective as in situ hybridization for the detection of HIV in the skin. Our results suggest that the viral load of the skin is rather low in HIV-infected subjects. HIV was demonstrated in one cell of one AIDS case by in situ techniques and this result was confirmed by a polymerase chain reaction examination using the same amount of tissue as for the in situ techniques.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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