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Current HIV Research


ISSN (Print): 1570-162X
ISSN (Online): 1873-4251

HIV-1 Replication and Pathogenesis in the Human Thymus

Author(s): Eric G. Meissner, Karen M. Duus, Rebecca Loomis, Rhiannon D'Agostin and Lishan Su

Volume 1, Issue 3, 2003

Page: [275 - 285] Pages: 11

DOI: 10.2174/1570162033485258

Price: $65


How HIV replicates and causes destruction of the thymus, and how to restore thymic function, are among the most important questions of HIV-1 pathogenesis and therapy in adult as well as pediatric patients. The thymus appears to function, albeit at reduced levels, throughout the life of adults, to respond to T cell depletion induced by HIV and to be suppressed by HIV. In this review, we summarize recent findings concerning HIV replication and pathogenesis in the human thymus, focusing on mechanistic insights gleaned from studies in the SCID-hu Thy / Liv mouse and human fetal-thymus organ culture (HF-TOC) models. First, we discuss HIV viral determinants and host factors involved in the replication of HIV in the thymus. Second, we consider evidence that both viral factors and host factors contribute to HIV-induced thymocyte depletion. We thus propose that multiple mechanisms, including depletion and suppression of progenitor cells, paracrine and direct lytic depletion of thymocytes, and altered thymocyte selection are involved in HIV-induced pathology in the thymus. With the SCID-hu Thy / Liv mouse and HF-TOC models, it will be important in the coming years to further clarify the virological, cell biological, and immunological mechanisms of HIV replication and pathogenesis in human thymus, and to correlate their significance in HIV disease progression.

Keywords: thymus, scid-hu thy/liv, hf-toc, env, nef, hiv/aids

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