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HIV-1 disseminates to diverse tissues and establishes long-lived viral reservoirs. These reservoirs include the CNS, in which macrophage-lineage cells, and as suggested by many studies, astrocytes, may be infected. Here, we have investigated astrocyte infection by HIV-1. We confirm that astrocytes trap and internalize HIV-1 particles for subsequent release but find no evidence that these particles infect the cell. Astrocyte infection was not observed by cell-free or cell-to-cell routes using diverse approaches, including luciferase and GFP reporter viruses, fixed and live-cell fusion assays, multispectral flow cytometry, and super-resolution imaging. By contrast, we observed intimate interactions between HIV-1-infected macrophages and astrocytes leading to signals that might be mistaken for astrocyte infection using less stringent approaches. These results have implications for HIV-1 infection of the CNS, viral reservoir formation, and antiretroviral therapy.

Original publication




Journal article


Cell Rep

Publication Date





1473 - 1483


HIV-1, astrocyte, brain, fusion, macrophage, phagocytosis, Astrocytes, Cell Fusion, Central Nervous System, Green Fluorescent Proteins, HIV Infections, HIV-1, Humans, Luciferases, Macrophages