Human adipose cells express CD4, CXCR4, and CCR5 [corrected] receptors: a new target cell type for the immunodeficiency virus-1?

FASEB J. 2002 Aug;16(10):1254-6. doi: 10.1096/fj.01-0947fje. Epub 2002 Jun 21.


The concept that adipocytes belong to an essential endocrine system with some characteristics of immune cells has recently emerged. The aim of this paper is to present evidence of the expression of CD4, CXCR4, and CCR5 receptors by human adipocytes and to test whether adipose cells support HIV entry. Primary human preadipocytes were cultured and differentiated in vitro. Expression of the three receptors on preadipocytes and adipocytes was demonstrated by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, immunocytochemical, and immunohistochemical analysis. Infection of adipose cells to HIV-1 was then investigated. The measurement of the viral p24 antigen in preadipocyte culture medium showed an increase of p24 levels between 24 and 72 h postexposure and then a progressive decrease to reach a low level at 10-15 days. Ten days after the infection test, supernatant of preadipocytes contained infectious particles able to infect the susceptible T-CD4 CEM cell line. The expression of viral proteins by adipocytes was confirmed using a fusion test. The presence of viral DNA was exhibited by gag-specific polymerase chain reaction, supporting the hypothesis of HIV-1 X4- and R5-virus entry in preadipocytes. Adipose cells represent the first cell type that does not belong to the immune system expressing all specific HIV receptors and may represent new HIV-1 target cells.

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Adipocytes / virology*
  • Biological Transport
  • CD4 Antigens / metabolism*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • DNA, Viral / analysis
  • Gene Products, env / metabolism
  • HIV-1 / genetics
  • HIV-1 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Receptors, CCR5 / metabolism*
  • Receptors, CXCR4 / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Virus / metabolism*


  • CD4 Antigens
  • DNA, Viral
  • Gene Products, env
  • Receptors, CCR5
  • Receptors, CXCR4
  • Receptors, Virus