Background: Recent studies have shown that blood monocytes harbor human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) variants that are genotypically distinguishable from those in CD4(+) T cells. However, the biological function of monocyte-derived HIV-1 remains unclear.
Methods: Using pseudovirus assay, we analyzed the phenotype conferred by monocyte-derived HIV-1 envelopes from 8 patients.
Results: All pseudoviruses carrying monocyte-derived HIV-1 envelopes used CCR5; however, their use of additional coreceptors delineated 4 phenotypes in which viruses used (1) CCR5 only, (2) CCR5 and CXCR4, (3) CCR3 and CCR5, or (4) multiple coreceptors, including CCR1, CCR3, GPR15, CCR5, and CXCR4. More importantly, we observed 2 distinct cell tropism phenotypes for pseudoviruses carrying monocyte-derived envelopes: (1) monocyte-derived, macrophage-specific R5 (MDMS-R5) virus that, using CCR5 only, could infect monocyte-derived macrophages (MDMs) but not CD4(+) T cells and (2) dual tropic virus that infected both MDMs and primary CD4(+) T cells. We found blood monocytes harboring viruses with multiple phenotypes as early as 25 days before seroconversion and as late as 9 years after seroconversion.
Conclusions: These data suggest that HIV-1 circulating in blood monocytes represents diverse HIV-1 with multiple phenotypes and that MDMS-R5 viruses may play an important role in infection with and persistence of HIV-1 within the monocyte/macrophage lineage.