Efficient HIV-1 transmission from macrophages to T cells across transient virological synapses

Blood. 2008 May 1;111(9):4660-3. doi: 10.1182/blood-2007-12-130070. Epub 2008 Feb 22.


Macrophages are reservoirs of HIV-1 infection, proposed to transmit virus to CD4(+) T cells, the primary target of the virus. Here we report that human monocyte-derived macrophages (MDMs) rapidly spread HIV-1 to autologous CD4(+) T cells resulting in productive infection. Transmission takes place across transient adhesive contacts between T cells and MDMs, which have the features of a virological synapse including copolarization of CD4 on the T cell with HIV-1 Gag and Env on the macrophage. We propose that an infected MDM can infect at least one T cell every 6 hours. Since HIV-1-infected macrophages can survive for many weeks, these results highlight the central role played by macrophages in HIV-1 infection and pathogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • CD4 Antigens / metabolism
  • Cell Communication*
  • Gene Products, env / metabolism
  • Gene Products, gag / metabolism
  • HIV Infections / etiology
  • HIV-1 / pathogenicity*
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Macrophages / virology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / virology*


  • CD4 Antigens
  • Gene Products, env
  • Gene Products, gag