Read about a team of researchers, led by Dr. Benhur Lee, who have identified a broad spectrum antiviral that may be effective against multiple deadly viruses, including HIV-1, Ebola, and Nipah.
CD4+ T cells infected with HIV may be killed when a large amount of virus is produced and buds out from the cell surface. The budding process disrupts the cell membrane and causes the cell to die. The cell can also expire when the virus excessively uses the cell’s machinery for its own purposes, disrupting normal activities needed for the survival of the cell.
Cells that are not infected with HIV may also die as a direct result of the effects of HIV infection.
Studies suggest that HIV also destroys precursor cells (young cells that have not yet fully developed) that later mature into cells with special immune functions. HIV can also damage the bone marrow and the thymus, which are needed for developing precursor cells. The bone marrow and thymus probably lose their ability to regenerate, further compounding the suppression of the immune system.
Last Updated April 28, 2009
Last Reviewed April 28, 2009