Chloroquine modulates HIV-1-induced plasmacytoid dendritic cell alpha interferon: Implication for T-cell activation

Jeffrey A. Martinson, Carlos J. Montoya, Xiomara Usuga, Rollie Ronquillo, Alan L. Landay, Seema N. Desai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDC) contribute to antiviral immunity mainly through recognition of microbial products and viruses via intracellular Toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7) or TLR9, resulting in the production of type I interferons (IFNs). Although interferons reduce the viral burden in the acute phase of infection, their role in the chronic phase is unclear. The presence of elevated plasma IFN-α levels in advanced HIV disease and its association with microbial translocation in chronic HIV infection lead us to hypothesize that IFN-α could contribute to immune activation. Blocking of IFN-α production using chloroquine, an endosomal inhibitor, was tested in a novel in vitro model system with the aim of characterizing the effects of chloroquine on HIV-1-mediated TLR signaling, IFN-α production, and T-cell activation. Our results indicate that chloroquine blocks TLR-mediated activation of pDC and MyD88 signaling, as shown by decreases in the levels of the downstream signaling molecules IRAK-4 and IRF-7 and by inhibition of IFN-α synthesis. Chloroquine decreased CD8 T-cell activation induced by aldrithiol-2-treated HIV-1 in peripheral blood mononuclear cell cultures. In addition to blocking pDC activation, chloroquine also blocked negative modulators of the T-cell response, such as indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) and programmed death ligand 1 (PDL-1). Our results indicate that TLR stimulation and production of IFN-α by pDC contribute to immune activation and that blocking of these pathways using chloroquine may interfere with events contributing to HIV pathogenesis. Our results suggests that a safe, well-tolerated drug such as chloroquine can be proposed as an adjuvant therapeutic candidate along with highly active antiretroviral therapy to control immune activation in HIV-1 infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)871-881
Number of pages11
JournalAntimicrobial agents and chemotherapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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