Follicular dendritic cells productively infected with immunodeficiency viruses transmit infection to T cells

R Sprenger, K M Toellner, C Schmetz, W Lüke, C Stahl-Hennig, M Ernst, G Hunsmann, H Schmitz, H D Flad, J Gerdes

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Lymphoid organs have been proposed to function as the major reservoir for the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). Within lymphatic tissues germinal centers represent foci of rapidly proliferating B cells governed by the interaction between B and T cells and follicular dendritic cells (FDC). Accumulating evidence suggests an important role of FDC in the pathophysiology of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Direct proof for the infectibility of FDC with HIV-1 has been lacking until recently when we were able to demonstrate a CD4-independent infection of FDC in vitro. Here we report that in vitro HIV-1-infected human FDC do not only contain proviral DNA, but also produce the virus, and transmit the infection to T cells. Furthermore, electron microscopical studies on ex vivo isolated FDC from simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-infected rhesus monkeys revealed typical virus budding. In addition, FDC from SIV-infected rhesus monkeys transmitted the infection to T cells in vitro. Due to this central role within the immune response FDC may serve as preferential targets for HIV both by trapping of virions on their surfaces and by productive infection. During disease FDC become productively infected and may, thus, be regarded as crucial elements in viral dissemination.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-34
Number of pages6
JournalFEMS Immunology and Medical Microbiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1995


  • Dendritic Cells
  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Humans
  • Palatine Tonsil
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Lymph Nodes
  • HIV-1
  • Simian immunodeficiency virus
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes


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