In addition to hemostasis, human platelets have several immune functions and interact with infectious pathogens including HIV in vitro. Here, we report that platelets from HIV-infected individuals on combined antiretroviral drug therapy (ART) with low blood CD4+ T cell counts (<350 cells/μl) contained replication-competent HIV despite viral suppression. In vitro, human platelets harboring HIV propagated the virus to macrophages, a process that could be prevented with the biologic abciximab, an anti-integrin αIIb/β3 Fab. Furthermore, in our cohort, 88% of HIV-infected individuals on ART with viral suppression and with platelets containing HIV were poor immunological responders with CD4+ T cell counts remaining below <350 cells/μl for more than one year. Our study suggests that platelets may be transient carriers of HIV and may provide an alternative pathway for HIV dissemination in HIV-infected individuals on ART with viral suppression and poor CD4+ T cell recovery.
ASJC Scopus subject areas