Fusion as a mediator of cytolysis in mixtures of uninfected CD4+ lymphocytes and cells infected by human immunodeficiency virus

B. Yoffe, Dorothy E. Lewis, B. L. Petrie, C. A. Noonan, J. L. Melnick, F. B. Hollinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


We describe an unusual type of cytopathology in which uninfected CD4+ (helper/inducer) cells (cells expressing the human leukocyte antigen CD4) interact with cells persistently infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Prior antigenic stimulation was not required, since CD4+ cells taken either from healthy persons without anti-HIV antibodies or from individuals with anti-HIV antibodies were capable of inducing cytolysis. Neither CD8+ (suppressor/cytotoxic) nor CD16+ (nature killer) cells mediated the reaction. Light microscopic and autoradiographic studies revealed that, prior to cytolysis, multinucleated giant cells were formed from fusions between HIV-infected cells and large numbers of uninfected CD4+ lymphocytes. These data may explain the paradox that exists in vivo in which a dramatic depletion of CD4+ lymphocytes occurs in the presence of a small number of HIV-infected CD4+ cells. These new insights into the pathogenesis of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) may lead to future therapeutic strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1429-1433
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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