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Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cells Suppress HIV-1 Replication but Contribute to HIV-1 Induced Immunopathogenesis in Humanized Mice

DOI: doi/10.1371/journal.ppat.1004291

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The role of plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDC) in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection and pathogenesis remains unclear. HIV-1 infection in the humanized mouse model leads to persistent HIV-1 infection and immunopathogenesis, including type I interferons (IFN-I) induction, immune-activation and depletion of human leukocytes, including CD4 T cells. We developed a monoclonal antibody that specifically depletes human pDC in all lymphoid organs in humanized mice. When pDC were depleted prior to HIV-1 infection, the induction of IFN-I and interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) were abolished during acute HIV-1 infection with either a highly pathogenic CCR5/CXCR4-dual tropic HIV-1 or a standard CCR5-tropic HIV-1 isolate. Consistent with the anti-viral role of IFN-I, HIV-1 replication was significantly up-regulated in pDC-depleted mice. Interestingly, the cell death induced by the highly pathogenic HIV-1 isolate was severely reduced in pDC-depleted mice. During chronic HIV-1 infection, depletion of pDC also severely reduced the induction of IFN-I and ISGs, associated with elevated HIV-1 replication. Surprisingly, HIV-1 induced depletion of human immune cells including T cells in lymphoid organs, but not the blood, was reduced in spite of the increased viral replication. The increased cell number in lymphoid organs was associated with a reduced level of HIV-induced cell death in human leukocytes including CD4 T cells. We conclude that pDC play opposing roles in suppressing HIV-1 replication and in promoting HIV-1 induced immunopathogenesis. These findings suggest that pDC-depletion and IFN-I blockade will provide novel strategies for treating those HIV-1 immune non-responsive patients with persistent immune activation despite effective anti-retrovirus treatment.


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