Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection has been associated with perturbations of plasmacytoid dendritic cells (PDC), including diminished frequencies in the peripheral blood and reduced production of type I interferons (IFNs) in response to in vitro stimulation. However, recent data suggest a paradoxical increase in production of type 1 interferons in vivo in HIV-infected patients compared to uninfected controls. Using a flow cytometric assay to detect IFN-α-producing cells within unseparated peripheral blood mononuclear cells, we observed that short-term interruptions of antiretroviral therapy are sufficient to result in significantly reduced IFN-α production by PDC in vitro in response to CpG A ligands or inactivated HIV particles. The primary cause of diminished IFN-α production was reduced responsiveness of PDC to de novo stimulation, not diminished per cell IFN-α production or migration of cells to lymphoid organs. Real-time PCR analysis of purified PDC from patients prior to and during treatment interruptions revealed that active HIV-1 replication is associated with upregulation of type I IFN-stimulated gene expression. Treatment of hepatitis C virus-infected patients with IFN-α2b and ribavirin for hepatitis C virus infection resulted in a profound suppression of de novo IFN-α production in response to CpG A or inactivated HIV particles, similar to the response observed in HIV-infected patients. Together, these results suggest that diminished production of type I interferons in vitro by PDC from HIV-1-infected patients may not represent diminished interferon production in vivo. Rather, diminished function in vitro is likely a consequence of prior activation via type I interferons or HIV virions in vivo.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science