Transepithelial transport of HIV-1 by intestinal M cells: a mechanism for transmission of AIDS

J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr (1988). 1991;4(8):760-5.


This study was designed to determine whether human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) might enter the host by penetrating epithelial barriers through antigen-transporting M cells in lymphoid follicle-associated epithelia. Interaction of HIV-1 with epithelial cells was examined using mucosal explants from Peyer's patches of mice and rabbits. HIV-1 adhered to the luminal membranes of M cells of both species, and was endocytosed and delivered to intraepithelial spaces containing lymphocytes and macrophages. These observations suggest that M cells, which are numerous in the human rectal mucosa, may efficiently deliver HIV-1 to target cells in mucosal lymphoid tissue, and that such transport may contribute to sexual transmission of AIDS.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / microbiology
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / pathology
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / transmission*
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Communication
  • Epithelium / microbiology
  • HIV-1* / pathogenicity
  • HIV-1* / ultrastructure
  • Intestinal Mucosa / microbiology*
  • Mice
  • Peyer's Patches / microbiology
  • Peyer's Patches / pathology
  • Rabbits