Does HIV kill cells?

Thierry Sornasse tsornas at dec5.ulb.ac.be
Thu Mar 24 06:22:29 EST 1994


Hi immunetters,

I am far to be a specialist in this field but I think that I can tell you my
point of view.

A single cell infected by HIV seems to resist quite well to the replication and
the buding of HIV. But if you mixe together a great number of HIV infected cells
you will get syncitia (fusion of two or more than 10 cells) which are not viable.

On the other hand, it seems clear now that HIV infection can kill T cells by
indirect mechanism. In fact, T cells from infected patients are extremely
sensitive to apoptosis ( programed cell death). It seems that the crosslinking of
the CD4 expressed on Th cells by the gp120 could be the reason of the
potentialisation of T cells to apoptosis.

Finally, I am not sure but I think that some cell types of the immune system,
like the follicular dendritic cells, are directly destroyed by HIV replication. 

In conclusion, I could say that HIV pathology is so complex that the question to
know if HIV kill directly or indirectly cell is not important by itself. 
What we know is that HIV kill people and that is important.

Bye

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