Immune Cells Are At The Frontline Of HIV Infection

This study showing that immune cells are at the frontline of HIV infection; But knowing as CD11c+ dendritic cells; but these new cells are more susceptible to HIV infection; and can then transmit the virus to other cells. Mononuclear phagocytes (MNP) are antigen presenting cells (APCs); and represent the first line of contact between the immune system and invading pathogens in the tissues; that form the portals of pathogen entry.

But CD11c+ dendritic cells are a subset of dendritic cells (a type of immune cell) that are only found in human genital tissues; specifically at the epithelial level (the thin layer of tissue that forms the surface) of the vagina; inner foreskin and anus. This location in genital tissue often means that these newly discovered CD11c+ dendritic cells are the first immune cells to interact with HIV.

Immune cells activation

Research saying that the role of these newly discovering CD11c+ dendritic cells is to capture any incoming disease causing virus or bacteria (pathogen); and then deliver it to CD4 T cells. But CD4 T cells are responsible for driving an immune response to the pathogen. Interestingly, they are also the primary HIV target cells in which the virus replicates. LCs have previously been considered to be the only MNP found within healthy human epidermis.

Once dendritic cells capture a pathogen, they communicate what they have found to CD4 T cells in the lymph nodes, essentially giving the immune system a constant update. This information prepares the immune system to either tolerate a bacteria or virus, or attack it. if CD4 T cells fall below critical levels (e.g. in HIV positive patients), then the body is no longer able to mount an immune response, leading to a diagnosis of AIDS.

Immune response against HIV

CD11c+ dendritic cells are more susceptible to HIV infection than any other known dendritic cell. We have also shown that CD11c+ dendritic cells interact with CD4 T cells more efficiently than any other dendritic cells. Importantly CD11c+ dendritic cells transfer the virus to CD4 T cells, making them key drivers of HIV infection. As these dendritic cells are so efficient at interacting with CD4 T cells, they are also important vaccine candidates.

Another avenue is to use this new information to develop a HIV vaccine. If HIV fragments or inactivated HIV were targeted at these CD11+c dendritic cells, this would have the potential to prime an immune response against HIV as soon as it enters the body,” says Professor Cunningham.