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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Host hindrance to HIV-1 replication in monocytes and macrophages

Anna Bergamaschi and Gianfranco Pancino*

Author Affiliations

Institut Pasteur, Unité de Régulation des Infections Rétrovirales, Paris, France

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Retrovirology 2010, 7:31  doi:10.1186/1742-4690-7-31

Published: 7 April 2010

Abstract

Monocytes and macrophages are targets of HIV-1 infection and play critical roles in multiple aspects of viral pathogenesis. HIV-1 can replicate in blood monocytes, although only a minor proportion of circulating monocytes harbor viral DNA. Resident macrophages in tissues can be infected and function as viral reservoirs. However, their susceptibility to infection, and their capacity to actively replicate the virus, varies greatly depending on the tissue localization and cytokine environment. The susceptibility of monocytes to HIV-1 infection in vitro depends on their differentiation status. Monocytes are refractory to infection and become permissive upon differentiation into macrophages. In addition, the capacity of monocyte-derived macrophages to sustain viral replication varies between individuals. Host determinants regulate HIV-1 replication in monocytes and macrophages, limiting several steps of the viral life-cycle, from viral entry to virus release. Some host factors responsible for HIV-1 restriction are shared with T lymphocytes, but several anti-viral mechanisms are specific to either monocytes or macrophages. Whilst a number of these mechanisms have been identified in monocytes or in monocyte-derived macrophages in vitro, some of them have also been implicated in the regulation of HIV-1 infection in vivo, in particular in the brain and the lung where macrophages are the main cell type infected by HIV-1. This review focuses on cellular factors that have been reported to interfere with HIV-1 infection in monocytes and macrophages, and examines the evidences supporting their role in vivo, highlighting unique aspects of HIV-1 restriction in these two cell types.