Langerhans’ cells are an actual site of HIV-1 replication

Klemens Rappersberger, Suzanne Gartner, Peter Schenk, Georg Stingl, Veronika Grah, Erwin Tschachler, Dean L. Mann, Klaus Wolff, Klaus Konrad, Mikulas Popovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


Human epidermal Langerhans’ cells (LC) are HLA-DR + /DQ +, CD1 +, CD4+ dendritic antigen-presenting leukocytes. Based on the observation that in certain human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infected individuals, LC are the only epidermal cells to react with monoclonal antibodies against HIV-1 isolate termed human T-lympho-tropic virus IIIB/83 core proteins p17 and p24, we have proposed that LC can serve as a target for HIV-1. This contention was strengthened by the ultrastructural finding of HIV-l-like particles in the close proximity of LC and by the demonstration of signs of moderate to severe LC damage. Detailed electron microscopic analysis of skin and mucosal biopsies from an AIDS patient with pl7/p24-positive LC now revealed not only mature HIV-l-like virions in the extracellular space surrounding LC and in intracytoplasmic LC vacuoles, but also developmental forms of HIV-l-like particles budding from LC surface membranes. Using peripheral blood derived monocytes/macrophages as targets for HIV-1 isolation, a virus isolate, designated human T-lymphotropic virus III WR-SK/86, was recovered from skin tissue from this patient by cocultivation and identified as unique by nucleic acid hybridization analysis. These findings now conclusively show that HIV-1 replicates in and is released from LC and support the concept that antigen-presenting cells (mononuclear phagocytes, LC) can serve as a reservoir for the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome virus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-194
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes


  • Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome
  • Human immunodeficiency virus 1
  • Langerhans’cells
  • Virus budding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases


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