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T cell-tropic HIV efficiently infects alveolar macrophages through contact with infected CD4+ T cells

Alveolar macrophages (AMs) are critical for defense against airborne pathogens and AM dysfunction is thought to contribute to the increased burden of pulmonary infections observed in individuals living with HIV-1 (HIV). While HIV nucleic acids have been detected in AMs early in infection, circulating HIV during acute and chronic infection is usually CCR5 T cell-tropic (T-tropic) and enters macrophages inefficiently in vitro. The mechanism by which T-tropic viruses infect AMs remains unknown. We collected AMs by bronchoscopy performed in HIV-infected, antiretroviral therapy (ART)-naive and uninfected subjects. We found that viral constructs made with primary HIV envelope sequences isolated from both AMs and plasma were T-tropic and inefficiently infected macrophages. However, these isolates productively infected macrophages when co-cultured with HIV-infected CD4+ T cells. In addition, we provide evidence that T-tropic HIV is transmitted from infected CD4+ T cells to the AM cytosol. We conclude that AM-derived HIV isolates are T-tropic and can enter macrophages through contact with an infected CD4+ T cell, which results in productive infection of AMs. CD4+ T cell-dependent entry of HIV into AMs helps explain the presence of HIV in AMs despite inefficient cell-free infection, and may contribute to AM dysfunction in people living with HIV.



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