There are reports that not all individuals exposed to HIV-1 become infected and the possibility exists that some individuals may be completely resistant to infection with this virus. This study aims to investigate, in vitro, whether certain peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) are completely resistant to HIV-1 and HIV-2 infection. PBMCs obtained from 130 unrelated healthy HIV-1- and HIV-2-seronegative volunteers were infected with four different isolates of HIV-1 (H995 and MN) and HIV-2 (CBL-20 and ROD) using several multiplicities of infection. Cultures were maintained for 21 d. Virus replication was measured using the viral p24 core antigen levels in the case of HIV-1, and by reverse transcriptase (RT) activity in the case of HIV-2, at 5, 14, and 21 d post-infection. Marked variations were observed among PBMCs from individual donors with regard to replication rates for HIV-1 and HIV-2. None of the PBMCs from any single donor was shown to have zero viral replication rates for all four HIV isolates tested. However, PBMCs from some individuals were shown to have either very low or very high viral replication rates when infected with one or more virus isolates. Our results clearly distinguished three groups of PBMCs with varying degrees of viral replication for both HIV-1 and HIV-2 infection in vitro: (a) those with high viral replication rates, (b) those with moderate viral replication rates, and (c) those with low viral replication rates. Our data indicate that although none of the PBMCs tested were shown to be completely resistant to in vitro HIV-1 and HIV-2 infection, partial resistance to infection was seen for some donor samples.
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