Differences in susceptibility to infection of most mononuclear phagocytes with HIV-1 are not known. We investigated the relative susceptibility of autologous freshly isolated blood monocytes (MN), MN cultured in vitro to allow differentiation (CM), and alveolar macrophages (AM) from healthy subjects to productive infection with HIV-1. Cells were infected with the macrophage tropic strain HIV-1JR-FL and p24 gag antigen levels measured in supernatants by ELISA. Freshly isolated MN had negligible levels of p24 in supernatants. In contrast AM had peak p24 levels of 4145 +/- 1456 pg/ml, mean +/- SE, and CM 9216 +/- 3118. As a measure of entry and extent of reverse transcription, levels of viral DNA in infected mononuclear phagocytes were analyzed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The data using primers that amplify all transcripts including incompletely formed reverse transcripts indicated that differences in entry of the virus may contribute to differences in virus production observed with MN, AM, and CM. Other primer pairs that detect intermediate and full-length double-stranded DNA showed that the ability to complete reverse transcription was similar among these mononuclear phagocytes. Since the lung is a major site of opportunistic infection and noninfectious complications in HIV-1-infected individuals, this increase in productive infection with HIV-1 in AM compared with MN could contribute to the immunopathogenesis of the lung disorders seen in the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.
E A Rich, I S Chen, J A Zack, M L Leonard, W A O'Brien