Quantitative image analysis of HIV-1 infection in lymphoid tissue

Science. 1996 Nov 8;274(5289):985-9. doi: 10.1126/science.274.5289.985.


Tracking human immunodeficiency virus-type 1 (HIV-1) infection at the cellular level in tissue reservoirs provides opportunities to better understand the pathogenesis of infection and to rationally design and monitor therapy. A quantitative technique was developed to determine viral burden in two important cellular compartments in lymphoid tissues. Image analysis and in situ hybridization were combined to show that in the presymptomatic stages of infection there is a large, relatively stable pool of virions on the surfaces of follicular dendritic cells and a smaller pool of productively infected cells. Despite evidence of constraints on HIV-1 replication in the infected cell population in lymphoid tissues, estimates of the numbers of these cells and the virus they could produce are consistent with the quantities of virus that have been detected in the bloodstream. The cellular sources of virus production and storage in lymphoid tissues can now be studied with this approach over the course of infection and treatment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antisense Elements (Genetics)
  • Autoradiography
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • Dendritic Cells / virology*
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / immunology
  • HIV Infections / virology*
  • HIV-1 / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / virology*
  • Lymph Nodes / virology
  • Lymphoid Tissue / virology*
  • Palatine Tonsil / virology
  • RNA Probes
  • RNA, Viral / analysis
  • RNA, Viral / blood
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Spleen / virology
  • Viral Load*


  • Antisense Elements (Genetics)
  • RNA Probes
  • RNA, Viral