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J Clin Invest. 2001 Sep;108(5):757-64.

HIV-1 infection impairs cell cycle progression of CD4(+) T cells without affecting early activation responses.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Center for AIDS Research, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.


Failure of CD4(+) T cells to proliferate in response to antigenic stimulation is a characteristic of HIV infection. Analysis of the proliferation defect has been hampered by an inability to identify CD4(+) cells with T cell receptor specificity for antigen. To focus only on cells that had been stimulated through the T cell receptor, CD4(+) T cells were stimulated with an anti-Vbeta3 Ab that activates approximately 3-5% of peripheral blood T cells. This approach revealed proliferation defects in cells from HIV-infected patients that were not appreciated using anti-CD3 Ab stimulation and provided the capacity to examine responses on a single cell basis. After anti-Vbeta3 Ab stimulation, CD4(+)Vbeta3(+) cells from HIV-infected patients demonstrated defects in expression of cell cycle-associated proteins, D-type cyclins, and cyclin A. However, the expression of early activation markers, CD69 and CD25, was not significantly impaired in cells from most patients. Thus, CD4(+) T cell proliferation failure in HIV disease is characterized by dysregulated activation that precludes cell cycle progression. This proliferation defect was most apparent in patients with diminished CD4(+) T cell numbers and higher plasma HIV RNA levels. CD4(+) T cell proliferation failure may be a key determinant of immune impairment in HIV disease.

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