The specific interaction between HIV and gut-associated immune cells, which may promote the depletion of cells and the virus' devastating attack on the immune system, is reported in a study online in Nature Immunology.
James Arthos and colleagues find that HIV interacts specifically with gut-associated immune cells in a way that promotes cell-to-cell spread of HIV infection. This occurs by specific interaction between HIV gp120 protein and a gut-associated protein that promotes lymphocyte migration to the gut. Interaction between these two proteins alters immune lymphocytes, making them much more susceptible to infection and, thus death and depletion.
This key finding may help explain why HIV infection leads to such massive depletion of gut-associated immune cells. It may also lead to new avenues of research to find ways to prevent this type of HIV-mediated immune destruction.
James Arthos (National Institutes of Health Laboratory of Immunoregulation, Bethesda, MD, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature Immunology press release.
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