Three populations of cells with dendritic morphology exist in peripheral blood, only one of which is infectable with human immunodeficiency virus type 1

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995 Jan 31;92(3):826-30. doi: 10.1073/pnas.92.3.826.


Conflicting data have been reported with regard to the infectability, dysfunction, and depletion of dendritic cells (DCs) in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease. These discrepancies could potentially be explained by the existence of multiple subsets of cells with dendritic morphology in peripheral blood. The isolation of DCs in humans is accomplished through negative selection until a morphologically pure population is obtained. Recently, DC precursors purified from peripheral blood by negative selection have been observed to develop into functionally and morphologically mature DCs. In this report we identify three populations of cells in peripheral blood that have or can develop a dendritic morphology. The first population, when allowed to mature in culture, develops a dendritic morphology and gains the expression of HB15, a marker of DCs in blood, thymus, skin, and lymphoid organs. The second population expresses HB15 and has the phenotypic and morphologic characteristics of mature DCs. The third population is morphologically very similar to mature DCs but does not share the same T-cell-stimulatory activity and is the only population that is infectable with HIV. Understanding the heterogeneity of cells of dendritic lineage and/or morphology in the peripheral blood will aid in understanding their role as antigen-presenting cells in general and as potential participants in the immunopathogenesis of HIV disease.

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Surface / blood
  • Biomarkers
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Separation / methods*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dendritic Cells / cytology*
  • Dendritic Cells / virology*
  • HIV-1 / pathogenicity*
  • HLA-DR Antigens / blood
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Lymphocyte Culture Test, Mixed


  • Antigens, Surface
  • Biomarkers
  • HLA-DR Antigens