Blood Journal
Leading the way in experimental and clinical research in hematology

Infection of hematopoietic progenitor cells by HIV-1 subtype C, and its association with anemia in southern Africa

  1. Andrew D. Redd1,
  2. Ava Avalos2, and
  3. Max Essex1
  1. 1Harvard School of Public Health AIDS Initiative, Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, and Botswana-Harvard Partnership for HIV Education and Training, Gaborone, Botswana;
  2. 2Infectious Disease Care Clinic, Princess Marina Hospital, Gaborone, Botswana


Reports from southern Africa, an area in which human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection is caused almost exclusively by subtype C (HIV-1C), have shown increased rates of anemia in HIV-infected populations compared with similar acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) patients in the United States, an area predominantly infected with subtype B (HIV-1B). Recent findings by our group demonstrated a direct association between HIV-1 infection and hematopoietic progenitor cell health in Botswana. Therefore, using a single-colony infection assay and quantitative proviral analysis, we examined whether HIV-1C could infect hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs) and whether this phenotype was associated with the higher rates of anemia found in southern Africa. The results show that a significant number of HIV-1C, but not HIV-1B, isolates can infect HPCs in vitro (P < .05). In addition, a portion of HIV-1C–positive Africans had infected progenitor cell populations in vivo, which was associated with higher rates of anemia in these patients (P < .05). This represents a difference in cell tropism between 2 geographically separate and distinct HIV-1 subtypes. The association of this hematotropic phenotype with higher rates of anemia should be considered when examining anti-HIV drug treatment regimens in HIV-1C–predominant areas, such as southern Africa.

  • Submitted April 18, 2007.
  • Accepted July 26, 2007.
View Full Text