Autophagy in HIV-Induced T Cell Death

  • Lucile Espert
  • Martine Biard-PiechaczykEmail author
Part of the Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology book series (CT MICROBIOLOGY, volume 335)


HIV infection leads to progressive CD4 T cell depletion, resulting in the development of AIDS. The mechanisms that trigger T cell death after HIV infection are still not fully understood, but a lot of data indicate that apoptosis of uninfected CD4 lymphocytes plays a major role. HIV directly modulates cell death using various strategies in which several viral proteins, in particular the envelope glycoproteins (Env), play an essential role. Importantly, Env, expressed on infected cells, triggers autophagy in uninfected CD4 T cells, leading to their apoptosis. Furthermore, HIV, like other viruses, has evolved strategies to inhibit this autophagic process in HIV-infected cells. This discovery further increases the level of complexity of the cellular processes involved in HIV-induced pathology. Interestingly, HIV protease inhibitors, currently used in highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), are able to induce autophagy in cancer cells, leading to a recent repositioning of these drugs as anticancer agents. This review presents an overview of the relationship between HIV, HAART, and autophagy.


Human Immunodeficiency Virus Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection Acquire Immune Deficiency Syndrome Human Immunodeficiency Virus Protease Inhibitor Human Immunodeficiency Virus Strain 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



HIV envelope glycoproteins


Highly active antiretroviral therapy


Kaposi’s sarcoma


Programmed cell death


HIV protease inhibitor



Institutional funds from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and the University of Montpellier, as well as grants from SIDACTION and the Agence Nationale de Recherches sur Le SIDA (ANRS) supported this work. We thank I. Robbins for helpful scientific discussions and careful critical reading of the manuscript.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CPBS, CNRS UMR5236, University of Montpellier, Institut de BiologieMontpellier Cedex 2France

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