Follicular dendritic cells (FDCS) represent a major reservoir of HIV, and active infection occurs surrounding these cells, suggesting that this microenvironment is highly conducive to virus transmission. Because CD4 T cells around FDCs in germinal centers express the HIV coreceptor, CXCR4, whereas CD4 lymphocytes in many other sites do not, it prompted the hypothesis that FDCs may increase CXCR4 expression on CD4 T cells, thereby facilitating infection. To test this, HIV receptor/coreceptor expression was determined on CD4 T cells cultured with or without FDCs, and its consequence to infection was assessed by measuring virus binding and entry. FDCs had little effect on CCR5 or CD4 expression but increased CXCR4 expression on CD4 T cells. FDC-mediated up-regulation of CXCR4 on CD4 T cells occurred by 24 h and was sustained for at least 96 h in vitro, and FDC-CD4 T cell contact was necessary. Importantly, increased CXCR4 expression directly correlated with increased binding and entry of HIV-1 X4 isolates. Furthermore, CD4+CD57+ germinal center T cells expressed high levels of CXCR4 and supported enhanced entry of X4 HIV compared with other CD4 T cells from the same tissue. Thus, in addition to serving as a reservoir of infectious virus, FDCs render surrounding germinal center T cells highly susceptible to infection with X4 isolates of HIV-1.
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