NIH conference. Immunopathogenic mechanisms in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection

Ann Intern Med. 1991 Apr 15;114(8):678-93. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-114-8-678.


An understanding of the immunopathogenic mechanisms of infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is fundamental in developing successful approaches to designing effective therapeutic and vaccine strategies. In this regard, we have investigated the mechanisms by which HIV inserts itself into the human immune system and uses the elaborate cytokine network to its own replicative advantage. We have also shown that the burden of HIV in CD4+ T cells is directly associated with a decline in this cell population in vivo and a progression to disease. Mononuclear phagocytes may play a role in the pathogenesis of HIV infection by serving as reservoirs of the virus. Of note is the fact that monocytes in the peripheral blood of HIV-infected individuals are rarely infected in vivo, whereas infected-tissue macrophages may play a role in organ-specific HIV-related pathogenesis. The role of HIV-specific humoral and cell-mediated immunity in HIV infection is not well understood. However, fine specificity of responses against HIV have been delineated in some in-vitro systems. It is unclear why these responses, particularly HIV-specific cytolytic T-cell responses, diminish over the course of infection and are unable to contain progression of infection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / microbiology
  • HIV Infections / immunology*
  • HIV Infections / microbiology
  • HIV-1 / physiology
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiopathology*
  • Immunity
  • Monocytes / physiology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / physiology