Persistence of infectious HIV on follicular dendritic cells

B. A. Smith, S. Gartner, Y. Liu, A. S. Perelson, N. I. Stilianakis, B. F. Keele, T. M. Kerkering, A. Ferreira-Gonzalez, A. K. Szakal, J. G. Tew, G. F. Burton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

146 Scopus citations


Follicular dendritic cells (FDCs) trap Ags and retain them in their native state for many months. Shortly after infection, HIV particles are trapped on FDCs and can be observed until the follicular network is destroyed. We sought to determine whether FDCs could maintain trapped virus in an infectious state for long periods of time. Because virus replication would replenish the HIV reservoir and thus falsely prolong recovery of infectious virus, we used a nonpermissive murine model to examine maintenance of HIV infectivity in vivo. We also examined human FDCs in vitro to determine whether they could maintain HIV infectivity. FDC-trapped virus remained infectious in vivo at all time points examined over a 9-mo period. Remarkably, as few as 100 FDCs were sufficient to transmit infection throughout the 9-mo period. Human FDCs maintained HIV infectivity for at least 25 days in vitro, whereas virus without FDCs lost infectivity after only a few days. These data indicate that HIV retained on FDCs can be long lived even in the absence of viral replication and suggest that FDCs stabilize and protect HIV, thus providing a long-term reservoir of infectious virus. These trapped stores of HIV may be replenished with replicating virus that persists even under highly active antiretroviral therapy and would likely be capable of causing infection on cessation of drug therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)690-696
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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