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The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is still a global pandemic and despite the successful use of anti-retroviral therapy, a well-established cure remains to be identified. Viral modulation of cell death has a significant role in HIV pathogenesis. Here we sought to understand the major mechanisms of HIV-induced death of lymphocytes and the effects on viral transmission. Flow cytometry analysis of lymphocytes from five latent HIV-infected patients, and HIV IIIB-infected MT2 cells demonstrated both necrosis and apoptosis to be the major mechanisms of cell death in CD4+ and CD4-/CD8- lymphocytes. Significantly, pro-apoptotic tumor necrosis factor (TNF) peptide (P13) was found to inhibit HIV-related cell death and reduced viral transmission. Whereas pro-necrotic TNF peptide (P16) had little effect on HIV-related cell death and viral transmission. Understanding mechanisms by which cell death can be manipulated may provide additional drug targets to reduce the loss of CD4+ cells and the formation of a viral reservoir in HIV infection.

Original publication




Journal article


Front Immunol

Publication Date





HIV, T-cells, apoptosis, necrosis, peptides, transmission, Humans, HIV Infections, HIV-1, Virus Latency, Apoptosis, Cell Death, Peptides