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Lancet. 2004 Mar 13;363(9412):863-6.

HIV-1 specific CD8+ T cells with an effector phenotype and control of viral replication.

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  • 1Center for Immunology and Inflammatory Diseases, Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts, USA.


Most people infected with HIV-1 cannot control viral replication despite the presence of virus-specific CD8+ T cells. It has been postulated that this inability is related to the failure of these cells to mature into fully differentiated effector cells. We tested this hypothesis by comparing the maturation phenotype of virus-specific CD8+ T cells in people who could control viral replication off anti-retroviral therapy with those who could not. In five patients with treated acute HIV-1-infection, structured treatment interruption (STI) induced control of viral replication was associated with expansion of virus-specific CD8+ T cells with a fully differentiated effector phenotype. These effector cells were also expanded in treatment-naive chronically infected individuals who spontaneously controlled viral replication, and augmented expression of perforin was noted in both settings. Our data show that full maturation of virus-specific CD8+ T cells is possible in the context of HIV-1-infection, and suggest that such maturation might be important in viral control.

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