A potential role for fat tissue as an HIV reservoir and source of chronic inflammation

September 24, 2015, Public Library of Science
CD4 staining among adipose tissue demonstrating that the main target of HIV, i.e. CD4 T cells, is indeed detectable in adipose tissue. Credit: CC-BY Damouche et al.

Viral persistence and chronic inflammation are two key features of HIV-positive patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART). A study published on September 24th in PLOS Pathogens reports results from macaques and humans that suggest an important role for adipose (fat) tissue as an HIV reservoir with inflammatory potential.

The establishment and persistence of low-grade inflammation in HIV-positive individuals on ART are not well understood. Given that (which makes up between 15 and 20% of the body weight in healthy people) is a source of inflammation in obese individuals, Christine Bourgeois and Olivier Lambotte, from the University Paris SUD, France, and colleagues, decided to investigate a possible role of the adipose tissue in humans infected with HIV and in macaques infected with simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV, an HIV relative that causes AIDS-like disease in some non-human primates).

They found that SIV infection in is associated with changes in the composition of the adipose tissue: Fat tissue from infected animals has higher densities of both adipocytes (fat storage ) and a mix of differentiated and undifferentiated cells called stromal vascular fraction or SVF that contains a large proportion of immune cells.

Moreover, these immune cells (CD4+ T cells, CD8+ T cells, and macrophages) show enhanced immune activation and/or inflammatory profiles compared with non-infected animals. The researchers were also able to detect SIV DNA and RNA in the combined total SVF as well as in isolated adipose tissue macrophages and CD4+ T cells.

They observed similar results in ART-controlled, HIV-infected patients who had undergone elective abdominal surgery: their SVF samples are positive for HIV DNA, and the researchers could show the presence of infected and virus-producing cells within the patients' adipose tissue and more specifically among adipose CD4+ T cells.

The researchers conclude that they "identified adipose tissue as a crucial cofactor in both viral persistence and chronic immune activation/inflammation during HIV infection", and propose that "modulating adipose tissue may constitute a valuable means of limiting both viral persistence and in ART-receiving HIV-infected patients".

Explore further: Immune cells proposed as HIV hideout don't last in primate model

More information: Damouche A, Lazure T, Avettand-Fènoël V, Huot N, Dejucq-Rainsford N, Satie A-P, et al. (2015) Adipose Tissue Is a Neglected Viral Reservoir and an Inflammatory Site during Chronic HIV and SIV Infection. PLoS Pathog 11(9): e1005153. DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1005153

Related Stories

Immune cells proposed as HIV hideout don't last in primate model

October 31, 2014
Where does HIV hide? Antiretroviral drugs can usually control the virus, but can't completely eliminate it. So any strategy to eradicate HIV from the body has to take into account not only the main group of immune cells the ...

HIV particles do not cause AIDS, our own immune cells do

August 27, 2015
Researchers from the Gladstone Institutes have revealed that HIV does not cause AIDS by the virus's direct effect on the host's immune cells, but rather through the cells' lethal influence on one another.

Stem cell transplant does not cure SHIV/AIDS after irradiation of infected rhesus macaques

September 25, 2014
A study published on September 25th in PLOS Pathogens reports a new primate model to test treatments that might cure HIV/AIDS and suggests answers to questions raised by the "Berlin patient", the only human thought to have ...

Lung microbiome similar with/without HIV

August 26, 2015
(HealthDay)—Lung microbiomes are similar in patients with and without HIV, although oral microbiomes do differ significantly, according to a study published online Aug. 6 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical ...

When fat is the solution: Using adipose cells to attenuate chagasic cardiomyopathy

August 6, 2015
Rio de Janeiro -It could be a plot for a vampire story: In the middle of the night, blood-sucking creatures feed on peoples' faces and spread a deadly disease to the hearts of millions, who are then fated to endure a painful ...

Review: inflammation's role in obesity-colorectal cancer link

September 13, 2012
(HealthDay)—A new review summarizes the ways in which inflammation and altered metabolism are associated with colorectal cancer in obese individuals; the review was published online Sept. 3 in Obesity Reviews.

Recommended for you

Study shows how HIV is shielded from immune attack

July 10, 2018
Scientists from UNSW Sydney and the UK have discovered that the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) hijacks a small molecule from the host cell to protect itself from being destroyed by the host's immune system.

Out-of-pocket costs put HIV prevention drug out of reach for many at risk

July 4, 2018
Public health officials are expanding efforts to get the HIV prevention pill into the hands of those at risk, in a nationwide effort to curb infections. But the officials are hitting roadblocks—the drug's price tag, which ...

New simulation tool predicts how well HIV-prophylaxis will work

June 14, 2018
A new mathematical simulation approach predicts the efficacy of pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medications, which help prevent HIV infection. The framework, presented in PLOS Computational Biology by Sulav Duwal ...

Many at risk for HIV despite lifesaving pill

June 11, 2018
Multiple barriers may stop high-risk individuals from accessing an HIV drug that can reduce the subsequent risk of infection, according to a new University of Michigan study.

Active HIV in large white blood cells may drive cognitive impairment in infected mice

June 7, 2018
Macrophages, large white blood cells that engulf and destroy potential pathogens, harbor active viral reserves that appear to play a key role in impaired learning and memory in mice infected with a rodent version of HIV. ...

HIV vaccine elicits antibodies in animals that neutralize dozens of HIV strains

June 4, 2018
An experimental vaccine regimen based on the structure of a vulnerable site on HIV elicited antibodies in mice, guinea pigs and monkeys that neutralize dozens of HIV strains from around the world. The findings were reported ...


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.