Inhibition of HIV strains by GB virus C in cell culture can be mediated by CD4 and CD8 T-lymphocyte derived soluble factors

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Objective:A number of studies concerning the pathogenesis of GB virus C (GBV-C) in HIV-infected people suggest a beneficial effect and improved survival for dually infected individuals. However there has remained controversy regarding the clinical relevance of these findings, as some studies have not confirmed these observations. To address the possibility of direct inhibitory mechanisms, we studied the impact of GBV-C on HIV-1 replication in vitro.Methods:Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were infected with sera from GBV-C positive individuals or transfected with GBV-C specific RNA and superinfected with HIV. Replication kinetics of HIV were studied by quantification of HIV-p24 release. Induction of soluble antiretroviral factors were monitored with an HIV infection assay and by quantification of chemokine secretion. Changes in chemokine receptor expression were analysed by flow cytometry.Results:We demonstrate that GBV-C infection of PBMC leads to significant replication inhibition of R5- and X4-HIV isolates representing eight HIV clades. The inhibitory effect is mediated by GBV-C infection and also by expression of GBV-C structural glycoproteins and/or of non-structural proteins NS2/NS3. Upon GBV-C infection CD4 and CD8 T lymphocytes produce soluble HIV-suppression factors. Induction of stromal cell-derived factor (SDF)-1 and subsequent internalization of CXCR4 was not observed.Conclusions:CD4 and CD8 T lymphocytes are stimulated by GBV-C to secrete antiretroviral factors, inhibiting R5- and X4-HIV strains. As no induction of SDF-1 and no down-regulation of the respective receptor CXCR4 could be observed, it is likely that additional unidentified factors causing inhibition of X4-HIV strains are induced by GBV-C.

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