Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 1563094
Clin. Exp. Immunol. 1992 Apr;88(1):10-6
The European collaborative study of HIV-infected pregnant women in Europe now indicates a 13% risk of fetal HIV infection (originally thought to be about 30%, and possibly higher in some countries). Several reports suggest trans-placental passage. However, the detailed mechanisms associated with such vertical transmission have not yet been clarified. We have examined the possibility that HIV enters placental tissue from maternal blood via binding to CD4 and Fc receptors (FcR) at the trophoblast level, allowing intraplacental infection. Here we report the detection of several FcR with distinct localization in the placental villus as well as CD4 surface expression on human trophoblast cells. In addition, we show that trophoblastic cells interact specifically with the gp120/gp160 viral envelope protein. By their tissue localization, these receptors could be responsible for the entry of HIV into the fetal placental cells. Furthermore, purified placental cells can be directly infected by HIV in vitro, and the infection is inhibited by soluble CD4. This suggests a crucial role of the CD4 receptor but an additional way of entry cannot be excluded. Such an in vitro model may be suitable for further studies concerning placental HIV transmission and its prevention.