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Macrophages are a major target of HIV-1 infection and are believed to act as viral reservoirs and mediators of HIV-1-associated neurological damage. These pathological roles may be associated with the ability of the virus to assemble and accumulate in apparently intracellular compartments in macrophages. These so-called virus-containing compartments were initially thought to be late endosomes or multivesicular bodies, but it has since been shown that they are distinct structures that have complex three-dimensional morphology, a unique set of protein markers, and features such as a near-neutral pH and frequent connections to the extracellular milieu. These features appear to protect HIV-1 from hostile elements both within and outside the cell. This review discusses the cellular and molecular characteristics of HIV-1-containing compartments in macrophages and how they offer a safe haven for the virus, with important consequences for pathogenesis.

Original publication




Journal article


Trends Microbiol

Publication Date





405 - 412


HIV-1, cell-to-cell spread, immune evasion, macrophage, virus containing compartment, HIV-1, Humans, Macrophages, Organelles