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doi: 10.1097/01.aids.0000210607.63138.bc
Basic Science

Differential susceptibility of human thymic dendritic cell subsets to X4 and R5 HIV-1 infection

Schmitt, Nathaliea; Nugeyre, Marie-Thérèsea; Scott-Algara, Daniela; Cumont, Marie-Christineb; Barré-Sinoussi, Françoisea; Pancino, Gianfrancoa; Israël, Nicolea,†

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Objectives: Human thymus can be infected by HIV-1 with potential consequences on immune regeneration and homeostasis. We previously showed that CD4 thymocytes preferentially replicate CXCR4 tropic (X4) HIV-1 dependently on interleukin (IL)-7. Here we addressed the susceptibility of thymic dendritic cells (DC) to HIV-1 infection.

Methods: We investigated the replication ability of CXCR4 or CCR5 (R5) tropic HIV-1 in thymic micro-explants as well as in isolated thymic CD11clowCD14 DC, CD11chighCD14+ DC and plasmacytoid DC subsets.

Results: Thymic tissue was productively infected by both X4 and R5 viruses. However, X4 but not R5 HIV-1 replication was enhanced by IL-7 in thymic micro-explants, suggesting that R5 virus replication occurred in cells other than thymocytes. Indeed, we found that R5 HIV-1 replicated efficiently in DC isolated from thymic tissue. The replicative capacity of X4 and R5 viruses differed according to the different DC subsets. R5 but not X4 HIV-1 efficiently replicated in CD11chighCD14+ DC. In contrast, no HIV-1 replication was detected in CD11clowCD14 DC. Both X4 and R5 viruses efficiently replicated in plasmacytoid DC, which secreted interferon-α upon HIV-1 exposure. Productive HIV-1 infection also caused DC loss, consistent with different permissivity of each DC subset.

Conclusions: Thymic DC sustain high levels of HIV-1 replication. DC might thus be the first target for R5 HIV-1 infection of thymus, acting as a Trojan horse for HIV-1 spread to thymocytes. Furthermore, DC death induced by HIV-1 infection may affect thymopoiesis.

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.


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