Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) eradication is prevented by the establishment on infection of cellular HIV-1 reservoirs that are not fully characterized, especially in genital mucosal tissues (the main HIV-1 entry portal on sexual transmission). Here, we show, using penile tissues from HIV-1-infected individuals under suppressive combination antiretroviral therapy, that urethral macrophages contain integrated HIV-1 DNA, RNA, proteins and intact virions in virus-containing compartment-like structures, whereas viral components remain undetectable in urethral T cells. Moreover, urethral cells specifically release replication-competent infectious HIV-1 following reactivation with the macrophage activator lipopolysaccharide, while the T-cell activator phytohaemagglutinin is ineffective. HIV-1 urethral reservoirs localize preferentially in a subset of polarized macrophages that highly expresses the interleukin-1 receptor, CD206 and interleukin-4 receptor, but not CD163. To our knowledge, these results are the first evidence that human urethral tissue macrophages constitute a principal HIV-1 reservoir. Such findings are determinant for therapeutic strategies aimed at HIV-1 eradication.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
- Microbiology (medical)
- Cell Biology