Differential response of primary and immortalized CD4+ T cells to Neisseria gonorrhoeae-induced cytokines determines the effect on HIV-1 replication

PLoS One. 2011 Apr 22;6(4):e18133. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0018133.


To compare the effect of gonococcal co-infection on immortalized versus primary CD4(+) T cells the Jurkat cell line or freshly isolated human CD4(+) T cells were infected with the HIV-1 X4 strain NL4-3. These cells were exposed to whole gonococci, supernatants from gonococcal-infected PBMCs, or N. gonorrhoeae-induced cytokines at varying levels. Supernatants from gonococcal-infected PBMCs stimulated HIV-1 replication in Jurkat cells while effectively inhibiting HIV-1 replication in primary CD4(+) T cells. ELISA-based analyses revealed that the gonococcal-induced supernatants contained high levels of proinflammatory cytokines that promote HIV-1 replication, as well as the HIV-inhibitory IFNα. While all the T cells responded to the HIV-stimulatory cytokines, albeit to differing degrees, the Jurkat cells were refractory to IFNα. Combined, these results indicate that N. gonorrhoeae elicits immune-modulating cytokines that both activate and inhibit HIV-production; the outcome of co-infection depending upon the balance between these opposing signals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / drug effects*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / virology*
  • Cell Line, Transformed
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytokines / pharmacology*
  • HIV-1 / drug effects*
  • HIV-1 / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Interferon-alpha / pharmacology
  • Jurkat Cells
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / drug effects
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / microbiology
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae / drug effects
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae / immunology*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology
  • Virus Replication / drug effects*


  • Cytokines
  • Interferon-alpha
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha