Renal epithelium is a previously unrecognized site of HIV-1 infection

J Am Soc Nephrol. 2000 Nov;11(11):2079-2087. doi: 10.1681/ASN.V11112079.


The striking emergence of an epidemic of HIV-related renal disease in patients with end-stage renal disease provided the rationale for the exploration of whether HIV-1 directly infects renal parenchymal cells. Renal glomerular and tubular epithelial cells contain HIV-1 mRNA and DNA, indicating infection by HIV-1. In addition, circularized viral DNA, a marker of recent nuclear import of full-length, reverse-transcribed RNA, was detected in the biopsies, suggesting active replication in renal tissue. Infiltrating infected leukocytes harbored more viral mRNA than renal epithelium. Identification of this novel reservoir suggests that effectively targeting the kidney with antiretrovirals may be critical for patients who are seropositive with renal disease. Thus, renal epithelium constitutes a unique and previously unrecognized cell target for HIV-1 infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • DNA, Viral / metabolism
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Epithelium / virology
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / genetics
  • HIV Infections / virology*
  • HIV-1* / genetics
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Kidney / virology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • RNA, Viral / metabolism
  • Tissue Distribution


  • DNA, Viral
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Viral