Tunneling nanotubes (TNT) are induced by HIV-infection of macrophages: A potential mechanism for intercellular HIV trafficking

Eliseo Eugenin, P. J. Gaskill, J. W. Berman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

148 Scopus citations


Cell to cell communication is essential for the organization/coordination of multicellular systems and cellular development. Cellular communication is mediated by soluble factors, including growth factors, neurotransmitters, cytokines/chemokines, gap junctions, and the recently described tunneling nanotubes (TNT). TNT are long cytoplasmatic bridges that enable long range directed communication between cells. The proposed function for TNT is the cell-to-cell transfer of large cellular structures such as vesicles and organelles. We demonstrate that HIV-infection of human macrophages results in an increased number of TNT, and show HIV particles within these structures. We propose that HIV "highjacks" TNT communication to spread HIV through an intercellular route between communicated cells, contributing to the pathogenesis of AIDS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-148
Number of pages7
JournalCellular Immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009
Externally publishedYes



  • AIDS
  • Communication
  • Filopodia
  • HIV
  • Infectivity
  • Inflammation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology

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