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HIV and the Macrophage: From Cell Reservoirs to Drug Delivery to Viral Eradication

Macrophages serve as host cells, inflammatory disease drivers and drug runners for human immunodeficiency virus infection and treatments. Low-level viral persistence continues in these cells in the absence of macrophage death. However, the cellular microenvironment changes as a consequence of viral infection with aberrant production of pro-inflammatory factors and promotion of oxidative stress. These herald viral spread from macrophages to neighboring CD4+ T cells and end organ damage. Virus replicates in tissue reservoir sites that include the nervous, pulmonary, cardiovascular, gut, and renal organs. However, each of these events are held in check by antiretroviral therapy. A hidden and often overlooked resource of the macrophage rests in its high cytoplasmic nuclear ratios that allow the cell to sense its environment and rid it of the cellular waste products and microbial pathogens it encounters. These phagocytic and intracellular killing sensing mechanisms can also be used in service as macrophages serve as cellular carriage depots for antiretroviral nanoparticles and are able to deliver medicines to infectious disease sites with improved therapeutic outcomes. These undiscovered cellular functions can lead to reductions in persistent infection and may potentially facilitate the eradication of residual virus to eliminate disease.

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