Exhausted B cells fail to fight HIV

Jul 14, 2008

HIV tires out the cells that produce virus-fighting proteins known as antibodies, according to a human study that will be published online July 14 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

Antibodies stick to HIV particles, preventing them from infecting other cells and triggering their destruction by immune cells. This antibody response starts out strong in HIV-infected individuals but eventually peters out. To find out why, scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases examined the cells that make the antibodies, known as B cells.

The group now finds that HIV gradually depletes the numbers of healthy, functional B cells. Individuals who had high levels of HIV in their blood had lots of B cells, but they failed to replicate normally or to produce high-quality antibodies. The fatigued B cells sported a protein called FCRL4, which dampens B cells' ability to respond to infection. How HIV turns on FCRL4 remains to be seen.

HIV is already known to knock out the defensive cells that directly attack and destroy infected cells. This new study reveals yet another way the virus dismantles the immune system.

Source: Journal of Experimental Medicine

Explore further: Why are HIV survival rates lower in the Deep South than the rest of the US?

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Indiana HIV outbreak, hepatitis C epidemic sparks US alert

11 hours ago

Federal health officials helping to contain an HIV outbreak in Indiana state issued an alert to health departments across the U.S. on Friday, urging them to take steps to identify and track HIV and hepatitis C cases in an ...

Why are HIV survival rates lower in the Deep South than the rest of the US?

Apr 22, 2015

The Deep South region has become the epicenter of the US HIV epidemic. Despite having only 28% of the total US population, nine states in the Deep South account for nearly 40% of national HIV diagnoses. This region has the highest HIV diagnosis rates and the highest number of people living with HIV of any ...

A bad buzz: Men with HIV need fewer drinks to feel effects

Apr 20, 2015

Researchers at Yale and the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System compared the number of drinks that men with HIV infection, versus those without it, needed to get a buzz. They found that HIV-infected men were more sensitive to ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.