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J Virol. 2004 Dec;78(24):13934-42.

Comparison of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-specific T-cell responses in HIV-1- and HIV-2-infected individuals in Senegal.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.


Human immunodeficiency virus type 2 (HIV-2) infection is typically less virulent than HIV-1 infection, which may permit the host to mount more effective, sustained T-cell immunity. We investigated antiviral gamma interferon-secreting T-cell responses by an ex vivo Elispot assay in 68 HIV-1- and 55 HIV-2-infected Senegalese patients to determine if differences relate to more efficient HIV-2 control. Homologous HIV-specific T cells were detected in similar frequencies (79% versus 76%, P = 0.7) and magnitude (3.12 versus 3.08 log(10) spot-forming cells/10(6) peripheral blood mononuclear cells) in HIV-1 and HIV-2 infection, respectively. Gag-specific responses predominated in both groups (>/=64%), and significantly higher Nef-specific responses occurred in HIV-1-infected (54%) than HIV-2-infected patients (22%) (P < 0.001). Heterologous responses were more frequent in HIV-1 than in HIV-2 infection (46% versus 27%, P = 0.04), but the mean magnitude was similar. Total frequencies of HIV-specific responses in both groups did not correlate with plasma viral load and CD4(+) T-cell count in multivariate regression analyses. However, the magnitude of HIV-2 Gag-specific responses was significantly associated with lower plasma viremia in HIV-1-infected patients (P = 0.04). CD4(+) T-helper responses, primarily recognizing HIV-2 Gag, were detected in 48% of HIV-2-infected compared to only 8% of HIV-1-infected patients. These findings indicate that improved control of HIV-2 infection may relate to the contribution of T-helper cell responses. By contrast, the superior control of HIV-1 replication associated with HIV-2 Gag responses suggests that these may represent cross-reactive, higher-avidity T cells targeting epitopes within Gag regions of functional importance in HIV replication.

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