Many events associated with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection/replication occur in and around the germinal centers (GCs) of secondary lymphoid tissues where follicular dendritic cells (FDCs) reside, suggesting that this microenvironment may contribute unique signaling that is important to viral progression. My research focused on characterizing signaling, both positive and negative, contributed by FDCs that affects HIV infection and replication. Specifically, I determined if FDC signals could induce the expression of latent HIV in T cells and if so, to characterize the signaling pathways involved. Moreover, I also examined the ability of FDCs to produce inhibitory signals that might block active virus expression. I approached these problems using FDCs from tonsils and coculturing these with primary CD4+ T cells or latently-infected Jurket cells with a GFP reporter. Results indicated that FDCs dramatically augmented HIV production of these cells. FDC signaling was costimulatory in nature and was mediated by soluble TNFα. However, when ex vivo latently infected T cells were treated with PMA/ionomycin or IL2/IL7, little virus expression was observed until FDCs were added, which greatly increased virus production. The transcription factor NFAT is important for the reactivation of latent HIV. Inhibition studies as well as ELISA suggested that JAK/STAT signaling pathway was involved in virus reactivation. Because FDCs produce prostaglandins (PGs) E2 and I2, I determined the effect of PGE2 and PGI2 analogs on HIV infected T cells. Results indicated that both the PGE2 and PGI2 analogs inhibited proliferation and activation-induced cell death of HIV infected T cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Additionally, it was shown that indomethacin and CAY10404, cyclooxygenase and cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors, partially restored HIV production in the presence of FDCs, suggesting that FDC-produced PGE2 and PGI2 may inhibit virus replication. Thus, FDCs produce PGs that can block virus gene expression in T cells, which may be ideal for viral persistence. Therefore, FDC signaling appears to both promote and inhibit HIV production. A better understanding of FDC signaling and regulation in GCs may suggest new treatment strategies that would be beneficial to infected subjects.



College and Department

Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Chemistry and Biochemistry



Date Submitted


Document Type





Follicular dendritic cell, HIV, resting CD4+ T cell, prostaglandin, costimulatory