Infection of cultured human thymic epithelial cells by human immunodeficiency virus

Clin Immunol Immunopathol. 1989 May;51(2):185-95. doi: 10.1016/0090-1229(89)90018-4.


We have succeeded in growing the HTLV-IIIB strain of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) in cultured human thymic epithelial (TE) cells. Expression of the HIV-1 proteins p17 and p24 was detected by immunofluorescence and reached a peak at 3 days after infection. Antigen capture and reverse transcriptase assays were used to detect HIV-1 in culture fluids, with positive results also being realized. The infection was cytolytic; cellular disarrangement, increased numbers of Hassall's corpuscles, and giant cells first appeared in monolayers of TE cells at 2 days after inoculation. By 4 days these changes were increased, and by 7 days, retraction and involution of TE cells were evident. The infection of TE cells by HIV-1 was blocked by preincubation with monoclonal OKT4A antibodies directed against CD4 target molecules.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Epithelium / microbiology
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • HIV / growth & development*
  • HIV / pathogenicity
  • HIV Antigens / analysis
  • Humans
  • RNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / analysis
  • Thymus Gland / microbiology*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • HIV Antigens
  • RNA-Directed DNA Polymerase