European Journal of Dermatology


HIV-type 1 induces specific cytoskeleton alterations in human epithelial cells in culture Volume 7, issue 4, June 1997


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Department of Ultrastructures, Istituto Superiore di Sanita’, Viale Regina Elena 299, 00161 Rome, Italy.

A wide range of cutaneous neoplastic and non-neoplastic disorders have been found in acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) patients. However, it is not clear how pathological skin changes are attributable to human immunodeficiency virus-type 1 (HIV-1) infection. In this study, we report the results obtained in cultured epithelial cells. Stabilized human epidermoid cell lines (A431, HEp-2) as well as primary cultures of human keratinocytes following interaction with HIV-1 particles were considered. In addition, the same cells after incubation with HIV-infected lymphoblastoid cells, used as viral carriers, were also used. Particular attention was paid to certain cytoskeletal elements involved in certain key functions of epithelial cells such as cell-to-cell and cell-substrate interaction, i.e. keratin filaments and the actin microfilament system. Direct, as well as cell-mediated exposure to HIV-1 viral particles was capable of markedly interfering with cytoskeletal element integrity, leading to a rearrangement of the membrane-associated cytoskeletal elements and to an alteration of their assembly with the perinuclear filamentous components. This results in an alteration of certain subcellular functions and finally leads to junctional leakage and cell injury. This cascade of stress-induced, subcellular events could possibly have an in vivo counterpart in neoplastic and non-neoplastic skin disorders and manifestations in patients with AIDS.