HIV replication occurs throughout the natural course of infection in secondary lymphoid tissues and in particular within the germinal centers (GCs), where follicular dendritic cells (FDCs) are adjacent to CD4+ T cells. Because FDCs provide signaling that increases lymphocyte activation, we postulated that FDCs could increase human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) replication. We cultured HIV-infected CD4+ T cells alone or with FDCs and measured subsequent virus expression using HIV-p24 production and reverse transcription-PCR analyses. When cultured with FDCs, infected CD4+ T cells produced almost fourfold more HIV than when cultured alone, and the rate of virus transcription was doubled. Both FDCs and their supernatant increased HIV transcription and resulted in nuclear translocation of NF-κB and phosphorylated c-Jun in infected cells. FDCs produced soluble tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) ex vivo, and the addition of a blocking soluble TNF receptor ablated FDC-mediated HIV transcription. Furthermore, TNF-α was found highly expressed within GCs, and ex vivo GC CD4+ T cells supported greater levels of HIV-1 replication than other CD4+ T cells. These data indicated that FDCs increase HIV transcription and production by a soluble TNF-α-mediated mechanism. This FDC-mediated effect may account, at least in part, for the presence of persistent HIV replication in GCs. Therefore, in addition to providing an important reservoir of infectious virus, FDCs increase HIV production, contributing to a tissue microenvironment that is highly conducive to HIV transmission and expression.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science