HIV-1 depletes CD4+ T cells in the blood, lymphatic tissues, gut and lungs. Here we investigated the relationship between depletion and infection of CD4+ T cells in the lung parenchyma. The lungs of 38 Indian rhesus macaques in early to later stages of SIVmac251 infection were examined, and the numbers of CD4+ T cells and macrophages plus the frequency of SIV RNA+ cells were quantified. We showed that SIV infected macrophages in the lung parenchyma, but only in small numbers except in the setting of interstitial inflammation where large numbers of SIV RNA+ macrophages were detected. However, even in this setting, the number of macrophages was not decreased. By contrast, there were few infected CD4+ T cells in lung parenchyma, but CD4+ T cells were nonetheless depleted by unknown mechanisms. The CD4+ T cells in lung parenchyma were depleted even though they were not productively infected, whereas SIV can infect large numbers of macrophages in the setting of interstitial inflammation without depleting them. These observations point to the need for future investigations into mechanisms of CD4+ T cell depletion at this mucosal site, and into mechanisms by which macrophage populations are maintained despite high levels of infection. The large numbers of SIV RNA+ macrophages in lungs in the setting of interstitial inflammation indicates that lung macrophages can be an important source for SIV persistent infection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)