COVID-19 represents an unprecedented health, social and economic challenge in Australia and around the world. Support Burnet’s COVID-19 emergency response today.
The susceptibility of patients with AIDS to certain opportunistic infections is due to defective cell-mediated immunity. The contribution of direct infection of macrophages with HIV-1 to this defect is unknown. To address this issue, we infected normal human monocyte-derived macrophages with a monocytotropic strain of HIV-1 and examined their ability to phagocytose and kill the opportunistic pathogen, Toxoplasma gondii. Phagocytosis of heat-killed T. gondii was reduced in HIV-infected macrophages compared with mock-infected controls. Opsonization of heat-killed T. gondii increased phagocytosis by both mock- and HIV-infected macrophages, but phagocytosis in HIV-infected cultures remained lower than in controls. Internalization of live T. gondii by macrophages was unaffected by HIV infection. Intracellular replication of live T. gondii was enhanced by HIV infection, as shown in four experiments, each using monocyte-derived macrophages from a different donor. Treatment of HIV-infected macrophages with IFN-gamma decreased parasite replication but not to control levels. These findings suggest that infection of macrophages by HIV may be a contributing factor to the reactivation of T. gondii infection in patients with AIDS.