HIV-1 coreceptor usage, transmission, and disease progression

Curr HIV Res. 2003 Apr;1(2):217-27. doi: 10.2174/1570162033485357.


HIV-1 coreceptor usage is believed to play a critical role in pathogenesis. To initiate infection, HIV-1 interacts with two cell surface receptors; CD4 is the primary receptor and the beta-chemokine receptors CCR5 and CXCR4 usually serve as secondary receptors. HIV-1 strains transmitted in vivo generally use CCR5. Viruses that use CCR5 (R5 viruses) appear to be associated with relatively stable infection. Years after chronic infection is established, CXCR4 utilizing strains emerge in approximately 50% of infected individuals. Viruses that use the coreceptor CXCR4 (X4 viruses) are associated with rapid CD4+ cell decline and disease progression. However, the mechanism by which X4 viruses are associated with accelerated disease progression has never been properly elucidated. For example, the association between X4 virus and acceleration of HIV-1 disease progression has been ascribed to the expanded spectrum of CXCR4+ precursor cells susceptible to infection by X4 strains. It has also been postulated that the decline of the host immune system associated with clinical AIDS may allow X4 viruses to evolve and replicate freely in late-stage infection. Discriminating between these and other alternatives is central to increasing our understanding of the fundamental pathogenic processes involved in HIV-1 infection. In this article, we critically review those studies published over the last few years that purport to examine the relationship between HIV-1 coreceptor usage, transmission, CD4+ T-cell depletion, and disease progression.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • CD4 Antigens / physiology
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / physiology
  • Disease Progression
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • HIV Infections / virology*
  • HIV-1 / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Receptors, CCR5 / physiology
  • Receptors, CXCR4 / physiology
  • Receptors, HIV / physiology*


  • CD4 Antigens
  • Receptors, CCR5
  • Receptors, CXCR4
  • Receptors, HIV