Exhausted B cells fail to fight HIV

July 14, 2008

HIV tires out the cells that produce virus-fighting proteins known as antibodies, according to a human study that will be published online July 14 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

Antibodies stick to HIV particles, preventing them from infecting other cells and triggering their destruction by immune cells. This antibody response starts out strong in HIV-infected individuals but eventually peters out. To find out why, scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases examined the cells that make the antibodies, known as B cells.

The group now finds that HIV gradually depletes the numbers of healthy, functional B cells. Individuals who had high levels of HIV in their blood had lots of B cells, but they failed to replicate normally or to produce high-quality antibodies. The fatigued B cells sported a protein called FCRL4, which dampens B cells' ability to respond to infection. How HIV turns on FCRL4 remains to be seen.

HIV is already known to knock out the defensive cells that directly attack and destroy infected cells. This new study reveals yet another way the virus dismantles the immune system.

Source: Journal of Experimental Medicine

Explore further: Researchers map pathways to protective antibodies for an HIV vaccine

Related Stories

Can a novel combination of treatments help eradicate HIV?

February 1, 2017

A Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine researcher has received a $2.5 million grant from Gilead Sciences, a California-based biopharmaceutical company, to see if two so-far separately-used AIDS treatments are ...

Recommended for you

Scientists zoom in on AIDS virus hideout

March 15, 2017

French scientists said Wednesday they had found a way to pinpoint elusive white blood cells which provide a hideout for the AIDS virus in people taking anti-HIV drugs.

HIV hijacks common cells to spread infection

February 16, 2017

Scientists at the Gladstone Institutes and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), together with collaborators in Europe, discovered that a common type of cell within the human reproductive and intestinal tracts ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.