New knowledge on how HIV beats the body's early immune response

September 14, 2017, Westmead Institute for Medical Research
Dr Najla Nasr with senior author Professor Tony Cunningham. Credit: Westmead Institute for Medical Research

In an important step towards eradicating HIV-associated viral reservoirs, researchers at Sydney's Westmead Institute for Medical Research have identified how the HIV virus hijacks the innate immune system to facilitate its replication and spread, thus gaining a foothold infection in the body.

The findings, published in the Journal of Virology, show how HIV induces antiviral interferon stimulated genes in the absence of .

Lead author of the study, Dr Najla Nasr said it's like a prize fight, with both HIV and the body's immune response both fighting for supremacy.

"When a person is infected with HIV, the virus infects immune cells and knocks out the body's interferon production; the first line of defence in our bodies.

"When interferon production is inhibited, the virus infects adjacent cells and spreads throughout the body.

"Surprisingly, we found that although HIV inhibits interferon production it also stimulates more than twenty antiviral interferon-stimulated genes—or ISGs—in its key target cells. This is the largest effect yet shown by any individual virus.

"ISGs are critical for controlling . They provide the earliest protective response to counter invading pathogens, but paradoxically they can also contribute to virus persistence.

"For its own survival advantage, HIV induces these genes in order to survive and spread throughout the body," Dr Nasr explained.

Dr Nasr said the ultimate goal of this research was to understand how these antiviral genes are induced and thus coming up with strategies to boost their expression so that the replication is not just slowed but completely stopped.

Explore further: Virulence factor made by influenza virus is potential target for vaccine drug development

More information: Najla Nasr et al, Mechanism of Interferon Stimulated Gene Induction in HIV-1 Infected Macrophages, Journal of Virology (2017). DOI: 10.1128/JVI.00744-17

Related Stories

Virulence factor made by influenza virus is potential target for vaccine drug development

August 14, 2017
A new study describes how NS1, a protein produced by influenza A viruses, suppresses the body's immune responses to viral infection. Researchers present the potential to develop a live attenuated vaccine based on an engineered ...

Scientists track Zika virus transmission in mice

August 3, 2017
National Institutes of Health (NIH) scientists have developed a mouse model to study Zika virus transmitted sexually from males to females, as well as vertically from a pregnant female to her fetus. They are using the model ...

Hepatitis C virus tricks liver cells to sabotage immune defenses

November 17, 2016
The virus that causes hepatitis C protects itself by blocking signals that call up immune defenses in liver cells, according to University of Washington researchers and colleagues reporting Nov. 14 in Nature Medicine.

How the human body first fights off pathogens

July 24, 2017
People constantly encounter viruses, bacteria or parasites. Fortunately, our skin, the specialized lining of our guts and other parts of our body that are exposed to the outside world prevent them from entering. When a pathogen ...

Zika virus blindfolds immune alarm cells

February 2, 2017
Gatekeeper immune cells are fighting Zika virus with an arm tied behind their backs, scientists from Emory Vaccine Center report.

Researchers identify potential Zika virus target

May 4, 2017
New research provides insights into why infection with Zika virus after birth generally causes only mild symptoms, whereas devastating fetal malformations can develop when infection occurs during pregnancy.

Recommended for you

PET scans to optimize tuberculosis meningitis treatments and personalize care, study finds

December 6, 2018
Although relatively rare in the United States, and accounting for fewer than 5 percent of tuberculosis cases worldwide, TB of the brain—or tuberculosis meningitis (TBM)—is often deadly, always hard to treat, and a particular ...

Silicosis is on the rise, but is there a therapeutic target?

December 6, 2018
Researchers from the CNRS, the University of Orléans, and the company Artimmune, in collaboration with Turkish clinicians from Atatürk University, have identified a key mechanism of lung inflammation induced by silica exposure, ...

Infectivity of different HIV-1 strains may depend on which cell receptors they target

December 6, 2018
Distinct HIV-1 strains may differ in the nature of the CCR5 molecules to which they bind, affecting which cells they can infect and their ability to enter cells, according to a study published December 6 in the open-access ...

Protecting cell powerhouse paves way to better treatment of acute kidney injury

December 6, 2018
For the first time, scientists have described the body's natural mechanism for temporarily protecting the powerhouses of kidney cells when injury or disease means they aren't getting enough blood or oxygen.

New study uncovers why Rift Valley fever is catastrophic to developing fetuses

December 5, 2018
Like Zika, infection with Rift Valley fever virus can go unnoticed during pregnancy, all the while doing irreparable—often lethal—harm to the fetus. The results of a new study, led by researchers at the University of ...

Study highlights potential role of bioaerosol sampling to address airborne biological threats

December 5, 2018
As a leading global city with a high population density, Singapore is vulnerable to the introduction of biological threats. Initiating an early emergency response to such threats calls for the rapid identification of the ...

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.