Macrophages as a Source of HIV During Opportunistic Infections

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Science  20 Jun 1997:
Vol. 276, Issue 5320, pp. 1857-1861
DOI: 10.1126/science.276.5320.1857

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The source of increasing viremia that characterizes the latter stages of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease has remained a paradox because it occurs at a time when lymphoid tissue is quantitatively and qualitatively impaired, and the patients' CD4 T lymphocytes are steadily declining. Here, macrophages, both infected and uninfected with common opportunistic pathogens of HIV disease such as Mycobacterium avium complex and Pneumocystis carinii, were identified as highly productive sources of HIV in coinfected lymph nodes. These observations indicate that tissue macrophages are not only infected with HIV, but that common pathogens of HIV disease can dramatically increase their production of virus. Thus, prevention or successful treatment of opportunistic coinfections, or both, potentially benefits the patient twofold by limiting the pathology caused by opportunistic infection and by controlling induction of HIV replication.

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