Activation of interferon response genes and of plasmacytoid dendritic cells in HIV-1 positive subjects with GB virus C co-infection

E. Lalle, A. Sacchi, I. Abbate, A. Vitale, F. Martini, G. D'Offizi, G. Antonucci, C. Castilletti, F. Poccia, Maria R. Capobianchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


GB virus C (GBV-C) coinfection has a protective role in Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection, and increases the duration of suppression of HIV-1 viremia in patients under Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART). Since innate antiviral response may be involved in the protection, we analyzed the possible role of GBV-C as activator of innate immunity. To this aim, we measured the extent of activation of the interferon (IFN) system and of circulating Dendritic Cells (DC) in vivo, and the ability of GBV-C to activate these functions in vitro. Activation of IFN system and of circulating DC was compared in GBV-positive and -negative HIV-1 co-infected patients with HAART-driven suppression of HIV-1 viremia. Endogenous levels of IFN-γ and RNA-dependent protein kinase (PKR) mRNA were significantly higher in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from GBV-C-positive when compared to GBV-C-negative patients. IFN-γ expression was correlated with all the Interferon response genes (IRGs) and with GBV-C viremia. The frequency of circulating plasmacytoid DC (pDC) expressing the CD80 activation marker was increased in GBV-C-positive patients, and was correlated with GBV-C viral load. In vitro experiments indicated that GBV-C is able to induce IFN-γ expression in PBMC. In addition, in PBMC cultures GBV-C induced an increase of CD80 expression by pDC, that was reduced by antibody to IFN-γ. Our data indicate that in HIV-positive patients GBV-C coinfection promotes the activation of IFN-γ and downstream IRG expression, as well as with the activation/maturation of circulating pDC. GBV-C-driven IFN-γ activation is, at least in part, responsible for the increased maturation of pDC. This crosstalk may suggest a role for GBV-C coinfection in boosting the innate antiviral response to HIV infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-171
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008


  • AIDS
  • Cell activation
  • Cytokines and dendritic cells
  • Human

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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