Alcohol consumption or alcohol abuse is common among pregnant HIV+ women and has been identified as a
potential behavioral risk factor for the transmission of HIV. In this study, we examined the impact of alcohol on HIV
infection of cord blood monocyte-derived macrophages (CBMDM). We demonstrated that alcohol treatment of CBMDM
significantly enhanced HIV infection of CBMDM. Investigation of the mechanisms of alcohol action on HIV
demonstrated that alcohol inhibited the expression of several HIV restriction factors, including anti-HIV microRNAs,
APOBEC3G and APOBEC3H. Additionally, alcohol also suppressed the expression of IFN regulatory factor 7 (IRF-7)
and retinoic acid-inducible gene I (RIG-I), an intracellular sensor of viral infection. The suppression of these IFN
regulatory factors was associated with reduced expression of type I IFN. These experimental findings suggest that
maternal alcohol consumption may facilitate HIV infection, promoting vertical transmission of HIV.
Keywords: Alcohol, Anti-HIV miRNAs, Cord blood, Intracellular restriction factors, HIV.
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