Defective function of monocyte-derived macrophages contributes to HIV-1 pathogenesis.
We found that phagocytosis of the opportunistic pathogens Mycobacterium avium complex and Toxoplasma gondii was impaired in monocytes obtained from individuals infected with wild-type strains of HIV-1 but generally not in monocytes collected over a 6-year period from Sydney Blood Bank Cohort (SBBC) members infected with nef/long terminal repeats (LTR) region-defective strains of HIV-1.
However, longitudinal analysis of phagocytosis in 1 SBBC member, C54, showed the development of defective engulfment of opportunistic pathogens at the most recent time points, coincident with the development of further molecular deletions in the nef/LTR region.
Another SBBC member, C98, underwent bronchoscopy, which provided material to examine phagocytic signaling in alveolar macrophages. In contrast to normal phagocytic efficiency of C98’s monocytes (over a 6-year period), defective signaling events during FcgammaR-mediated phagocytosis by C98’s alveolar macrophages were observed. High basal phosphorylation within HIV-infected macrophages correlated with colocalization of tyrosine-phosphorylated proteins with HIV-1 p24 antigen rather than around the phagocytic targets as observed in uninfected cells.
Thus, although phagocytic efficiency appears to be generally unimpaired in monocytes from SBBC members, evidence of impairment in recent samples from 1 SBBC member, coincident with further genetic changes within the virus, and abnormal phagocytic signaling in alveolar macrophages from another SBBC member may herald loss of attenuation of those strains.