Placental Hofbauer cells assemble and sequester HIV-1 in tetraspanin-positive compartments that are accessible to broadly neutralizing antibodies

Erica L. Johnson, Hin Chu, Siddappa Nagadenahalli Byrareddy, Paul Spearman, Rana Chakraborty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Introduction: Within monocyte-derived macrophages, HIV-1 accumulates in intracellular virus-containing compartments (VCCs) that are inaccessible to the external environment, which implicate these cells as latently infected HIV-1 reservoirs. During mother-to-child transmission of HIV-1, human placental macrophages (Hofbauer cells (HCs)) are viral targets, and have been shown to be infected in vivo and sustain low levels of viral replication in vitro; however, the risk of in utero transmission is less than 7%. The role of these primary macrophages as viral reservoirs is largely undefined. The objective of this study is to define potential sites of viral assembly, accumulation and neutralization in HCs given the pivotal role of the placenta in preventing HIV-1 infection in the mother-infant dyad. Methods: Term placentae from 20 HIV-1 seronegative women were obtained following caesarian section. VCCs were evaluated by 3D confocal and electron microscopy. Colocalization R values (Pearson's correlation) were quantified with colocalization module of Volocity 5.2.1. Replication kinetics and neutralization studies were evaluated using p24 ELISA. Results: We demonstrate that primary HCs assemble and sequester HIV-1BaL in intracellular VCCs, which are enriched in endosomal/lysosomal markers, including CD9, CD81, CD63 and LAMP-1. Following infection, we observed HIV-1 accumulation in potentially acidic compartments, which stained intensely with Lysotracker-Red. Remarkably, these compartments are readily accessible via the cell surface and can be targeted by exogenously applied small molecules and HIV-1-specific broadly neutralizing antibodies. In addition, broadly neutralizing antibodies (4E10 and VRC01) limited viral replication by HIV-1-infected HCs, which may be mediated by FcγRI. Conclusions: These findings suggest that placental HCs possess intrinsic adaptations facilitating unique sequestration of HIV-1, and may serve as a protective viral reservoir to permit viral neutralization and/or antiretroviral drug entry in utero.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number19385
JournalJournal of the International AIDS Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 22 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • HIV-1
  • Hofbauer cells
  • MTCT
  • Placenta
  • VCCs
  • bNAbs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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