Underlying Mechanism Identified in How HIV May Infect Kidney Cells

Findings may provide further knowledge of how patients end up developing HIV-1 associated nephropathy.

Researchers have identified a new mechanism that explains how HIV-1 infects a patient’s kidney epithelial cells.

For the study, researchers wanted to investigate the underlying mechanisms of HIV-infected kidney cells cultured from the urine of children with HIV-1 associated nephropathy (HIVAN).

Specifically, they wanted to focus on podocytes and renal tubular epithelial cells. The findings were published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN).

Through analyses and various treatment, the results of the study showed that transmembrane TNF-alpha played a key role. TNF-alpha is the precursor of soluble TNF alpha, which is involved in numerous inflammatory diseases.

“We found that transmembrane TNF-alpha facilitates the low level productive infection of podocytes cultures from HIV-positive children and renal tubular epithelial cells that do not express CD4, a finding that may have wider clinical implications in understanding how children develop HIVAN,” said lead researcher Patricio Ray, MD.

The findings may help explain how other CD4-negative epithelial cells, which includes those located in the placenta or cervix, may become infected, thus facilitating mother-to-child transmission of HIV. However, authors noted that further research is needed to confirm this.