Advances in the Knowledge of HIV-Related Impairment of Mucosal Immunity

  • Roberto Manetti
  • Sergio Romagnani


The pathogenesis and natural history of infection by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are integrally related to mucosal tissues. The gastrointestinal tract harbors more than 90% of the body’s lymphocytes, whereas peripheral blood contains only 2%–5% of total lymphocytes. Primary transmission of most HIV-1 infections follows successful contact between the virus in donor mucosal fluid and susceptible host mucosae. The intestinal mucosa is important for the entry of HIV, particularly in homosexual men. There are several possibilities for HIV to reach CD4 + T cells, macrophages, and follicular dendritic cells in the intestinal mucosa. HIV may be transported through M cells directly to mucosal lymphoid follicles. Furthermore, in patients not infected by the intestinal route, HIV may also rapidly enter the intestinal mucosa by other mechanisms, since intestinal T lymphocytes are mainly activated memory T cells reentering the mucosal surfaces after circulating through the peripheral blood. Accumulation of infected T cells can thus occur in the intestinal mucosa, and intestinal tissues may be a significant reservoir of HIV-1 [1].


Human Immunodeficiency Virus Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection Lamina Propria Simian Immunodeficiency Virus 
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© Springer-Verlag Italia 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roberto Manetti
  • Sergio Romagnani

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