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Clin Exp Immunol. 2001 Apr;124(1):21-31.

T cell responses to highly active antiretroviral therapy defined by chemokine receptors expression, cytokine production, T cell receptor repertoire and anti-HIV T-lymphocyte activity.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Medicine, Division of Clinical Immunology and Allergy, University of Rome 'La Sapienza', Italy.


The immunological correlates of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART)-induced suppression of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) replication have been investigated. 20 HIV-1-infected patients with mean CD4+ T cell count of 298/microl, plasma viral load of 4.7 log10 copies/ml and naive for protease inhibitors (PI) were studied during12 months of HAART. An increased number of both CD4+ and CD8+ naive T cells and a normalization of the frequency of CCR5- and CXCR4-expressing CD4+ T cells were readily observed after starting therapy. Single cell analysis of cytokine production after 12 months of HAART showed an increased number of interleukin (IL)-2-, but not IL-4- and (IFN)-gamma-, producing T cells and a decreased percentage of CD8+ IFN-gamma + cells. A correlation between the frequency of IFN-gamma-producing T cells and that of memory, CCR5+ and CD95+ T cells was demonstrated in both CD4+ and CD8+ subsets. The diversity of T cell receptor (TCR) variable beta (BV) chain repertoire significantly increased after 12 months of HAART within the CD4+ but not the CD8+ T cell subset. However, the level of perturbation of the third complementarity-determining region (CDR3), was not significantly modified by effective therapy. The number of anti-HIV Gag and Pol cytotoxic T lymphocytes precursors (CTLp) decreased during HAART and highly correlated with the CD8 IFN-gamma response. Ameliorated clinical conditions were observed in all patients in absence of any opportunistic infections during all the study period. These observations indicate that a better restoration of immunity may be obtained in patients starting HAART at less advanced stages of the disease.

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