Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Virology


Geisel School of Medicine


The contribution of mammary epithelial cells (MEC) to human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) in breast milk remains largely unknown. While breast milk contains CD4(+) cells throughout the breast-feeding period, it is not known whether MEC directly support HIV-1 infection or facilitate infection of CD4(+) cells in the breast compartment. This study evaluated primary human MEC for direct infection with HIV-1 and for indirect transfer of infection to CD4(+) target cells. Primary human MEC were isolated and assessed for expression of HIV-1 receptors. MEC were exposed to CCR5-, CXCR4- and dual-tropic strains of HIV-1 and evaluated for viral reverse transcription and integration and productive viral infection. MEC were also tested for the ability to transfer HIV to CD4(+) target cells and to activate resting CD4(+) T cells. Our results demonstrate that MEC express HIV-1 receptor proteins CD4, CCR5, CXCR4, and galactosyl ceramide (GalCer). While no evidence for direct infection of MEC was found, HIV-1 virions were observed in MEC endosomal compartments. Coculture of HIV-exposed MEC resulted in productive infection of activated CD4(+) T cells. In addition, MEC secretions increased HIV-1 replication and proliferation of infected target cells. Overall, our results indicate that MEC are capable of endosomal uptake of HIV-1 and can facilitate virus infection and replication in CD4(+) target cells. These findings suggest that MEC may serve as a viral reservoir for HIV-1 and may enhance infection of CD4(+) T lymphocytes in vivo.



Original Citation

Dorosko SM, Connor RI. Primary human mammary epithelial cells endocytose HIV-1 and facilitate viral infection of CD4+ T lymphocytes. J Virol. 2010 Oct;84(20):10533-42. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01263-10. Epub 2010 Aug 11. PMID: 20702626; PMCID: PMC2950585.