Normal human peripheral blood lymphocytes were tested for their susceptibility to infection with retroviruses isolated from patients with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) or AIDS-related complex. Of 10 normal individuals tested, lymphocytes from all subjects became infected and produced virus as detected by assay for Mg+2-dependent reverse transcriptase. Lymphocytes from different individuals were demonstrated to be either high or low producers of reverse transcriptase after infection. The kinetics of virus production were similar in cells from both high- and low-producing individuals. A significant correlation was observed between high and low viral-producing lymphocytes and expression of the Leu-3/T4 (CD4) surface molecule. Mitogen-stimulated peripheral blood lymphocytes exposed to HTLV-III/LAV manifested productive viral infection, as reflected by the appearance of early syncytia, followed by reverse transcriptase. Unstimulated peripheral blood lymphocyte cultures displayed late syncytia but no detectable reverse transcriptase upon exposure to virus. The addition of anti-human interferon-alpha did not appear to have an appreciable effect on viral production in normal peripheral blood lymphocytes exposed to the virus.

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