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Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Volume 9 (2001), Issue 2, Pages 95-104

Production of Interferons and β-Chemokines by Placental Trophoblasts of HIV-1-Infected Women

1Department of Molecular Pathology, Division of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Box 7, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd., Houston, TX 77030, USA
2The Women's Hospital of Texas, Houston, TX, USA
3Department of Pathology, Texas Children's Hospital, Houston, TX, USA
4Department of Pediatrics, Texas Children's Hospital, Houston, TX, USA

Received 15 December 2000; Accepted 29 March 2001

Copyright © 2001 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Objective: The mechanism whereby the placental cells of a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1-infected mother protect the fetus from HIV-1 infection is unclear. Interferons (IFNs) inhibit the replication of viruses by acting at various stages of the life cycle and may play a role in protecting against vertical transmission of HIV-1. In addition the β-chemokines RANTES (regulated on activation T cell expressed and secreted), macrophage inflammatory protein-1-α (MIP-1α), and MIP-1β can block HIV-1 entry into cells by preventing the binding of the macrophage-trophic HIV-1 strains to the coreceptorCCR5. In this study the production of IFNs and β-chemokines by placental trophoblasts of HIV-1-infected women who were HIV-1 non-transmitters was examined.

Methods: Placental trophoblastic cells were isolated from 29 HIV-1-infected and 10 control subjects. Supernatants of trophoblast cultures were tested for the production of IFNs and β-chemokines by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Additionally, HIV-1-gag and IFN-β transcripts were determined by a semi-quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay.

Results: All placental trophoblasts of HIV-1-infected women contained HIV-1-gag transcripts. There were no statistical differences in the median constitutive levels of IFN-α and IFN-γ produced by trophoblasts of HIV-1- infected and control subjects. In contrast, trophoblasts of HIV-1-infected women constitutively produced significantly higher levels of IFN-β protein than trophoblasts of control subjects. Furthermore, the median levels of β-chemokines produced by trophoblasts of HIV-infected and control women were similar.

Conclusions: Since there was no correlation between the placental HIV load and the production of interferons or β-chemokines, the role of trophoblast-derived IFNs and β-chemokines in protecting the fetus from infection with HIV-1 is not clear.