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

Allogeneic leukocytes but not therapeutic blood elements induce reactivation and dissemination of latent human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infection: implications for transfusion support of infected patients

  1. MP Busch,
  2. TH Lee, and
  3. J Heitman
  1. Irwin Memorial Blood Centers, San Francisco, CA 94118.

Abstract

Various immunologic stimuli and heterologous viral regulatory elements have been shown to increase susceptibility to, and replication of, human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) in lymphocytes and monocytes in vitro. Transfusion of allogeneic blood components from heterologous donors constitutes a profound immunologic stimulus to the recipient, in addition to being a potential route of transmission of lymphotropic viral infections. To investigate the hypothesis that transfusions, and particularly those containing leukocytes, activate HIV-1 replication in infected recipient cells, we cocultured peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from three anti-HIV-1-positive individuals with allogeneic donor PBMC, as well as partially purified populations of donor lymphocytes, monocytes, granulocytes, platelets, and red blood cells (RBC) and allogeneic cell-free plasma. Allogeneic PBMC induced a dose-related activation of HIV-1 expression in in vivo infected cells, followed by dissemination of HIV-1 to previously uninfected patient cells. Activation of HIV-1 replication was observed with donor lymphocytes, monocytes, and granulocytes, whereas no effect was seen with leukocyte-depleted RBC, platelets, or plasma (ie, therapeutic blood constituents). Allogeneic donor PBMC were also shown to upregulate HIV-1 expression in a “latently” infected cell line, and to increase susceptibility of heterologous donor PBMC to acute HIV-1 infection. Studies should be performed to evaluate whether transfusions of leukocyte-containing blood components accelerate HIV-1 dissemination and disease progression in vivo. If so, HIV-1-infected patients should be transfused as infrequently as possible and leukocyte-depleted (filtered) blood components should be used to avoid this complication.