FRIDAY, Oct. 14, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Scientists say a newly discovered cellular pathway could pave the way for a new type of vaccine against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
According to background information, disease progression after HIV infection is associated with the decreased presence of plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs), major producers of an immune protein called type 1 interferon. According to researchers at New York University (NYU), high numbers of pDCs are related to successful control of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
The new study, published in the Oct. 13 online issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, outlines the mechanisms by which HIV-1 activates human pDCs. This activation requires at least two interactions between the HIV and pDCs, the NYU team explains.
The study noted that a decrease of blood pDC is frequently observed in chronic infections suffered by people with HIV. This decrease of blood pDC correlates with high viral load, reduced CD4 counts and susceptibility to opportunistic infections.
By identifying the active component of HIV-1 that stimulates pDC function, the researchers believe they have pinpointed an important pathway that may prove a useful target in the development of HIV vaccines or immunotherapies.
The American Medical Association has more about HIV infection.