Intact HIV-1 and exosomes can be internalized by dendritic cells (DCs) through a common pathway leading to their transmission to CD4+ T lymphocytes by means of mechanisms defined as trans-infection and trans-dissemination, respectively. We previously reported that exosomes from HIV-1-infected cells activate both uninfected quiescent CD4+ T lymphocytes, which become permissive to HIV-1, and latently infected cells, with release of HIV-1 particles. However, nothing is known about the effects of trans-dissemination of exosomes produced by HIV-1-infected cells on uninfected or latently HIV-1-infected CD4+ T lymphocytes. Here, we report that trans-dissemination of exosomes from HIV-1-infected cells induces cell activation in resting CD4+ T lymphocytes, which appears stronger with mature than immature DCs. Using purified preparations of both HIV-1 and exosomes, we observed that mDC-mediated trans-dissemination of exosomes from HIV-1-infected cells to resting CD4+ T lymphocytes induces efficient trans-infection and HIV-1 expression in target cells. Most relevant, when both mDCs and CD4+ T lymphocytes were isolated from combination anti-retroviral therapy (ART)-treated HIV-1-infected patients, trans-dissemination of exosomes from HIV-1-infected cells led to HIV-1 reactivation from the viral reservoir. In sum, our data suggest a role of exosome trans-dissemination in both HIV-1 spread in the infected host and reactivation of the HIV-1 reservoir.
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