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J Infect Dis. 2003 May 15;187(10):1534-43. Epub 2003 Apr 23.

T cell activation is associated with lower CD4+ T cell gains in human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients with sustained viral suppression during antiretroviral therapy.

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  • 1Positive Health Program, San Francisco General Hospital, and San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Francisco, California 94121, USA.


Although T cell activation is associated with disease progression in untreated human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection, its significance in antiretroviral-treated patients is unknown. Activated (CD38(+)HLA-DR(+)) T cell counts were measured in 99 HIV-infected adults who had maintained a plasma HIV RNA level <or=1000 copies/mL for a median of 21 months while receiving antiretroviral therapy. Patients with sustained viral suppression had lower levels of T cell activation than untreated patients but higher levels than HIV-uninfected control subjects. Persistent T cell activation was associated with decreased CD4(+) T cell gains during therapy. For every 5% increase in the proportion of activated CD8(+) T cells, 35 fewer CD4(+) T cells/mm(3) were gained. Increased T cell activation was associated with shorter duration of viral suppression, hepatitis C virus coinfection, frequent low-level viremia, and lower nadir CD4(+) T cell counts. Interventions that directly target T cell activation or the determinants of activation may prove to be useful adjuvants to antiretroviral therapy.

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