Document Type


Publication Title

Virology Journal


Background: An HIV cure has not yet been achieved because latent viral reservoirs persist, particularly in resting CD4+ T lymphocytes. In vitro, it is difficult to infect resting CD4+ T cells with HIV-1, but infections readily occur in vivo. Endothelial cells (EC) line the lymphatic vessels in the lymphoid tissues and regularly interact with resting CD4+ T cells in vivo. Others and we have shown that EC promoted productive and latent HIV infection of resting CD4+ T cells. However, the EC used in previous studies were from human umbilical cords (HUVEC), which are macrovascular; whereas EC residing in the lymphoid tissues are microvascular. Methods: In this study, we investigated the effects of microvascular EC stimulation of resting CD4+ T cells in establishing viral infection and latency. Human resting and activated CD4+ T cells were cultured alone or with endothelial cells and infected with a pseudotyped virus. Infection levels, indicated by green fluorescent protein expression, were measured with flow cytometry and data was analyzed using Flowing Software and Excel. Results: We confirmed that EC from lymphatic tissue (LEC) were able to promote HIV infection and latency formation in resting CD4+ T cells while keeping them in resting phenotype, and that IL-6 was involved in LEC stimulation of CD4+ T cells. However, there are some differences between stimulation by LEC and HUVEC. Unlike HUVEC stimulation, we demonstrated that LEC stimulation of resting memory T cells does not depend on major histocompatibility complex class II (MHC II) interactions with T cell receptors (TCR) and that CD2-CD58 interactions were not involved in LEC stimulation of resting T cells. LEC also secreted lower levels of IL-6 than HUVEC. We also found that LEC stimulation increases HIV infection rates in activated CD4+ T cells. Conclusions: While differences in T cell stimulation between lymphatic EC and HUVEC were observed, we confirmed that similar to macrovascular EC stimulation, microvascular EC stimulation promotes direct HIV infection and latency formation in resting CD4+ T cells without T cell activation. LEC stimulation also increased infection rates in activated CD4+ T cells. Additionally, the present study established a physiologically more relevant model of EC interactions with resting CD4+ T cells and further highlighted the importance of investigating the roles of EC in HIV infection and latency in both resting and activated CD4+ T cells.



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