Astrocytes Resist HIV-1 Fusion but Engulf Infected Macrophage Material

Cell Rep. 2017 Feb 7;18(6):1473-1483. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.01.027.


HIV-1 disseminates to diverse tissues and establishes long-lived viral reservoirs. These reservoirs include the CNS, in which macrophage-lineage cells, and as suggested by many studies, astrocytes, may be infected. Here, we have investigated astrocyte infection by HIV-1. We confirm that astrocytes trap and internalize HIV-1 particles for subsequent release but find no evidence that these particles infect the cell. Astrocyte infection was not observed by cell-free or cell-to-cell routes using diverse approaches, including luciferase and GFP reporter viruses, fixed and live-cell fusion assays, multispectral flow cytometry, and super-resolution imaging. By contrast, we observed intimate interactions between HIV-1-infected macrophages and astrocytes leading to signals that might be mistaken for astrocyte infection using less stringent approaches. These results have implications for HIV-1 infection of the CNS, viral reservoir formation, and antiretroviral therapy.

Keywords: HIV-1; astrocyte; brain; fusion; macrophage; phagocytosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Astrocytes / metabolism
  • Astrocytes / virology*
  • Cell Fusion / methods
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism
  • Central Nervous System / virology
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • HIV Infections / metabolism
  • HIV Infections / virology*
  • HIV-1 / pathogenicity*
  • Humans
  • Luciferases / metabolism
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Macrophages / virology*


  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Luciferases