Duffy antigen receptor for chemokines (DARC) expressed on red blood cells (RBCs) influences plasma levels of HIV-1-suppressive and proinflammatory chemokines such as CCL5/RANTES. DARC is also the RBC receptor for Plasmodium vivax. Africans with DARC -46C/C genotype, which confers a DARC-negative phenotype, are resistant to vivax malaria. Here, we show that HIV-1 attaches to RBCs via DARC, effecting trans-infection of target cells. In African Americans, DARC -46C/C is associated with 40% increase in the odds of acquiring HIV-1. If extrapolated to Africans, approximately 11% of the HIV-1 burden in Africa may be linked to this genotype. After infection occurs, however, DARC-negative RBC status is associated with slower disease progression. Furthermore, the disease-accelerating effect of a previously described CCL5 polymorphism is evident only in DARC-expressing and not in DARC-negative HIV-infected individuals. Thus, DARC influences HIV/AIDS susceptibility by mediating trans-infection of HIV-1 and by affecting both chemokine-HIV interactions and chemokine-driven inflammation.
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