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J Immunol. 2007 Jun 1;178(11):7211-21.

A novel functional CTL avidity/activity compartmentalization to the site of mucosal immunization contributes to protection of macaques against simian/human immunodeficiency viral depletion of mucosal CD4+ T cells.

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  • 1Molecular Immunogenetics and Vaccine Research Section, Vaccine Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA. igorbelyakov@yahoo.com


The presence of high-avidity CTLs in the right compartment can greatly affect clearance of a virus infection (for example, AIDS viral infection of and dissemination from mucosa). Comparing mucosal vs systemic immunization, we observed a novel compartmentalization of CTL avidity and proportion of functionally active Ag-specific CD8(+) T cells to tissues proximal to sites of immunization. Whereas both s.c. and intrarectal routes of immunization induced tetramer(+) cells in the spleen and gut, the mucosal vaccine induced a higher percentage of functioning IFN-gamma(+) Ag-specific CD8(+) T cells in the gut mucosa in mice. Translating to the CD8(+) CTL avidity distribution in rhesus macaques, intrarectal vaccination induced more high-avidity mucosal CTL than s.c. vaccination and protection of mucosal CD4(+) T cells from AIDS viral depletion, whereas systemic immunization induced higher avidity IFN-gamma-secreting cells in the draining lymph nodes but no protection of mucosal CD4(+) T cells, after mucosal challenge with pathogenic simian/human immunodeficiency virus. Mucosal CD4(+) T cell loss is an early critical step in AIDS pathogenesis. The preservation of CD4(+) T cells in colonic lamina propria and the reduction of virus in the intestine correlated better with high-avidity mucosal CTL induced by the mucosal AIDS vaccine. This preferential localization of high-avidity CTL may explain previous differences in vaccination results and may guide future vaccination strategy.

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