The lung represents a potential target during HIV infection, and the onset of AIDS is associated with severe pulmonary complications in many patients. T-lymphocytes and alveolar macrophages form the majority of HIV-infected cells in the lung. However, other cell types in the lung could participate in HIV-mediated lung pathology and their role has not been investigated. The aims of this study were to determine if human lung microvascular endothelial cells (HLMEC) express HIV receptor and coreceptors, and if HIV can directly infect HLMEC. Specifically, we wished to determine if these cells constitute a viral reservoir in the lung, and if HIV-1 envelope proteins induce cytotoxic effects on HLMEC. Our results showed that by flow cytometry, HLMEC failed to express any CXCR4 or CCR5 on their surface. In contrast, RT-PCR revealed the presence of CXCR4 and CCR5 mRNA, but not CD4 in HLMEC. Two dual-tropic HIV-1 isolates failed to infect HLMEC in vitro, as determined by (1) p24 antigen capture ELISA, (2) reverse transcriptase assay, RT-PCR, and (3) DNA PCR. However, a recombinant HIV-1 gp120 preparation induced apoptotic cell death of HLMEC. These data support the hypothesis that no productive HIV-1 infection of HLMEC occurs in vitro. This suggests that in vivo, HLMEC may not be a major reservoir of HIV in the lung and the primary route for HIV invasion of the lung. Thus, while other mechanisms must play a role in HIV invasion and subsequent dissemination in the lung, lung endothelial cells do represent potential targets for the lethal effects of HIV viral proteins.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases