Anti-nerve growth factor Ab abrogates macrophage-mediated HIV-1 infection and depletion of CD4+ T lymphocytes in hu-SCID mice

Enrico Garaci, Stefano Aquaro, Caterina Lapenta, Alessandra Amendola, Massimo Spada, Sonia Covaceuszach, Carlo Federico Perno, Filippo Belardelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Infection by HIV-1 causes persistent, long-term high virus production in macrophages. Major evidence, both in humans and in primate models, shows the crucial role of macrophages in sustaining virus production and in mediating a cytopathic effect on bystander CD4+ T lymphocytes and neuronal cells. In the present study, we used severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice engrafted with human peripheral blood lymphocytes (hu-PBL-SCID mice) to investigate the in vivo effect of HIV-1-infected macrophages on virus spread and CD4+ T lymphocyte depletion, and the ability of a mAb against nerve growth factor (NGF, a neurokine essential for the survival of HIV-1-infected macrophages) to suppress the pathogenetic events mediated by infected macrophages. Injection of mice with as few as 500 HIV-exposed macrophages causes (i) complete depletion of several millions of autologous CD4+ T lymphocytes, (ii) sustained HIV viremia, and (iii) spreading of HIV-1 DNA in mouse lymphoid organs. In contrast, in vivo treatment with an anti-NGF Ab completely abrogates all effects mediated by HIV-infected macrophages. Taken together, the results demonstrate the remarkable power of macrophages in sustaining in vivo HIV-1 infection, and that such a phenomenon can be specifically abrogated by an anti-NGF Ab. This may open new perspectives of experimental approaches aimed at selectively eliminating persistently infected macrophages from the bodies of HIV-infected patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8927-8932
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - Jul 22 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • General


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