Human Cortical Neuronal Cell Line: A Model for HIV-1 Infection in an Immature Neuronal System

M. E. Truckenmiller, Henrietta Kulaga, Mark Coggiano, Richard Wyatt, Solomon H. Snyder, Paul M. Sweetnam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


HCN-1A is a human cerebral cortical neuronal cell line having properties consistent with cells of immature neuronal origin. This article details evidence for productive low-level infection of HCN-1A cells with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). In vitro exposure to HCN-1A monolayers to a high titer of either LAV/HTLV-IIIB or HTLV-IIIMN resulted in HIV-1 p24 antigen production and a moderate increase in reverse transcriptase activity in cell-free supernatants. The cells in both LAV/HTLV-IIIB- and HTLV-IIIMN-infected cultures were passaged and proliferated as long as 5 weeks while continuing to express low levels of viral antigen. Virus-positive cells were detected by indirect immunofluorescence, using serum from an individual with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) as well as with a gp120 monoclonal antibody. Confirmation of HCN-1A infection was provided by polymerase chain reaction analyses of both nuclear and cytoplasmic DNA and by de novo synthesis of viral proteins as shown by metabolic labeling and immunoprecipitation. Virus in cell-free supernatants from infected HCN-1A cultures was passaged to a permissive human T cell line (A3.01). HCN-1A cells had no detectable surface CD4 protein or CD4 message. However, the cells expressed the membrane glycolipids, galactocerebroside and sulfatide, possible receptors for gp120 on cells of neuronal origin. Undifferentiated HCN-1A cells provide an in vitro model for investigating potential interactions of HIV-1 with a homogeneous population of immature cortical neurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)445-453
Number of pages9
JournalAIDS research and human retroviruses
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases

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