Conjugates of dendritic cells and memory T lymphocytes from skin facilitate productive infection with HIV-1

Cell. 1994 Aug 12;78(3):389-98. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(94)90418-9.


Experimentally, a productive infection with HIV-1 requires that virus be administered to T cells that are activated by mitogens. We describe a productive milieu for HIV-1 within the confines of normal skin that does not require standard stimuli. The milieu consists of dendritic cells and T cells that emigrate from skin and produce distinctive stable, nonproliferating conjugates. These conjugates, upon exposure to each of seven different HIV-1 isolates, begin to release high levels of virus progeny within 4 days. Numerous infected syncytia, comprised of both dendritic and T cells, rapidly develop. We propose that conjugates of dendritic cells and T cells, as found in the external linings of organs involved in sexual transmission of HIV-1, represent an important site for the productive phase of HIV-1 infection. Because the affected T cells carry the memory phenotype, this site additionally provides a mechanism for the chronic depletion of CD4+ memory cells in HIV-1 disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / microbiology*
  • Cell Fusion
  • Cell Movement
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / microbiology*
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Giant Cells / microbiology*
  • HIV Core Protein p24 / analysis
  • HIV Infections / etiology
  • HIV Infections / immunology
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • HIV-1 / growth & development*
  • HIV-1 / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Skin / cytology
  • Skin / immunology
  • Skin / microbiology*


  • HIV Core Protein p24