Cells with fibroblast-like features were isolated from the villous tissue of normal term human placentas. Immunocytochemical characterization of the cells showed that they were vimentin-positive but negative for factor-VIII, CD14 and CD4. Thus, the cells are mesenchymal and are not endothelial cells, macrophages or trophoblast. These cells were exposed to nine different cell-free virus isolates, including seven isolates of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), one HIV-2 isolate and one simian immunodeficiency virus isolate (SIV(mac251)). The susceptibility of the cells to infection was evaluated by immunocytochemical and virological techniques. No evidence of infection could be found using immunofluorescence microscopy or by p24 antigen capture and reverse transcriptase assays. However, virus rescue experiments using 11 different target cell types provided evidence that the placental fibroblasts were susceptible to infection with HIV-1(Lai), HIV-1(IIIB), HIV-2(CBL-20), and SIV(mac251), yet were resistant to infection by all other isolates. The infected fibroblasts exhibited neither cytopathic effects nor released virus into the culture medium. For each infected fibroblast population, some, but not all, indicator target cell lines or human peripheral blood mononuclear cells were able to rescue the respective virus. Based on these observations, we conclude that placental fibroblasts can be infected with HIV during transplacental transmission and could act as virus reservoirs, capable of infecting other fetal cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology