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J Virol. 2001 Nov;75(21):10187-99.

Role of CD8(+) lymphocytes in control of simian immunodeficiency virus infection and resistance to rechallenge after transient early antiretroviral treatment.

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  • 1Retroviral Pathogenesis Laboratory, AIDS Vaccine Program, SAIC Frederick, National Cancer Institute at Frederick, Frederick, Maryland 21702, USA. lifson@avpaxpl.ncifcrf.gov


Transient antiretroviral treatment with tenofovir, (R)-9-(2-phosphonylmethoxypropyl)adenine, begun shortly after inoculation of rhesus macaques with the highly pathogenic simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) isolate SIVsmE660, facilitated the development of SIV-specific lymphoproliferative responses and sustained effective control of the infection following drug discontinuation. Animals that controlled plasma viremia following transient postinoculation treatment showed substantial resistance to subsequent intravenous rechallenge with homologous (SIVsmE660) and highly heterologous (SIVmac239) SIV isolates, up to more than 1 year later, despite the absence of measurable neutralizing antibody. In some instances, resistance to rechallenge was observed despite the absence of detectable SIV-specific binding antibody and in the face of SIV lymphoproliferative responses that were low or undetectable at the time of challenge. In vivo monoclonal antibody depletion experiments demonstrated a critical role for CD8(+) lymphocytes in the control of viral replication; plasma viremia rose by as much as five log units after depletion of CD8(+) cells and returned to predepletion levels (as low as <100 copy Eq/ml) as circulating CD8(+) cells were restored. The extent of host control of replication of highly pathogenic SIV strains and the level of resistance to heterologous rechallenge achieved following transient postinoculation treatment compared favorably to the results seen after SIVsmE660 and SIVmac239 challenge with many vaccine strategies. This impressive control of viral replication was observed despite comparatively modest measured immune responses, less than those often achieved with vaccination regimens. The results help establish the underlying feasibility of efforts to develop vaccines for the prevention of AIDS, although the exact nature of the protective host responses involved remains to be elucidated.

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