DC–T cell virological synapses and the skin: novel perspectives in dermatology

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Virological synapses (VS) increase cell-to-cell viral transmission and facilitate propagation of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and human T-cell leukaemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1). VS formation also plays a more general role in viral replication and dissemination. VS have been observed in vitro and ex vivo between uninfected T cells and T cells infected with HIV-1 or HTLV-1. In addition, dendritic cells (DC) infected with HIV-1 also play an important role in viral transmission to uninfected CD4+ T cells via VS formation. Recent studies revealed that several DC subsets are also infected with HTLV-1. These findings may help explain the rapid dissemination of both viruses within secondary lymphoid tissues in vivo. VS also explain, at least in part, why HIV-1 can propagate in the mucosal sites during sexual transmission. Furthermore, in the case of HTLV-1, VS can potentially explain some of the features of HTLV-1-associated dermatitis as infected T cells in the skin contribute to the pathogenesis of this condition.

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