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In Situ Distribution of HIV-Binding CCR5 and C-Type Lectin Receptors in the Human Endocervical Mucosa


The endocervical mucosa is believed to be a primary site of HIV transmission. However, to date there is little known about the distribution of the HIV co-receptor CCR5 and the HIV-binding C-type lectin receptors, including Langerin, dendritic cell (DC)-specific intercellular adhesion molecule-grabbing non-integrin (DC-SIGN) and mannose receptor (MR) at this site. We therefore characterized the expression of these molecules in the endocervix of HIV seronegative women by computerized image analysis. Endocervical tissue biopsies were collected from women (n = 6) undergoing hysterectomy. All study individuals were diagnosed with benign and non-inflammatory diseases. CCR5+ CD4+ CD3+ T cells were found within or adjacent to the endocervical epithelium. The C-type lectin Langerin was expressed by intraepithelial CD1a+ CD4+ and CD11c+ CD4+ Langerhans cells, whereas DC-SIGN+ MR+ CD11c myeloid dendritic cells and MR+ CD68+ macrophages were localized in the submucosa of the endocervix. The previously defined immune effector cells including CD8+, CD56+, CD19+ and IgD+ cells were also found in the submucosa as well as occasional CD123+ BDCA-2+ plasmacytoid dendritic cells. Understanding the spatial distribution of potential HIV target cells and immune effector cells in relation to the endocervical canal forms a basis for deciphering the routes of HIV transmission events in humans as well as designing HIV-inhibiting compounds.

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PLoS ONE (eISSN-1932-6203) is an international, peer-reviewed, open-access, online publication. PLoS ONE welcomes reports on primary research from any scientific discipline.  PLoS ONE is published by the Public Library of Science (PLoS), a nonprofit organization.

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Information in this article was accurate in September 30, 2011. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.