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Keywords:

  • dendritic cells;
  • HHV-8;
  • KSHV;
  • umbilical cord-blood-derived CD34+ cells

Abstract:  CD34+ progenitor cells carrying human herpesvirus-8, Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (HHV-8/KSHV), have been described in the peripheral blood of AIDS patients suffering from Kaposi's sarcoma (KS). In this study, we investigated the influence of HHV-8 on the differentiation of CD34+ progenitor cells. Native CD34+ cells derived from cord blood could be infected by a laboratory strain of HHV-8, as shown by immunofluorescence staining and polymerase chain reaction, but no significant initial maturation/differentiation effects were observed. In addition, these infected cells were differentiated into immature and mature dendritic cells (DCs) using cytokine induction with recombinant human granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (rhGm-CSF), recombinant human tumor necrosis factor (rhTNF-α) and recombinant human stem cell factor (rhSCF). Double immunofluorescence and flow cytometry studies demonstrated that virus infection did not impair the development of immature and mature DC populations. Subsequently, the immunostimulating capacity of DC populations was tested in a mixed lymphocyte reaction using allogeneic T-cells. The HHV-8-infected CD34+ progenitor cell-derived mature DC population showed a significantly enhanced antigen-presenting capacity, compared to non-infected DCs, which was not observed with the immature DCs. This suggests stimulation of DC function by HHV-8 infection. Because there are only a small percentage of HHV-8-positive DCs in the preparations and because it is not clear whether infection is abortive or productive to some extent, this seems to be most likely due to an indirect viral effect.