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PLoS One. 2011;6(5):e19607. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0019607. Epub 2011 May 13.

Functional impairment of central memory CD4 T cells is a potential early prognostic marker for changing viral load in SHIV-infected rhesus macaques.

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  • 1Department of Immunology, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, United States of America.


In HIV infection there is a paucity of literature about the degree of immune dysfunction to potentially correlate and/or predict disease progression relative to CD4(+) T cells count or viral load. We assessed functional characteristics of memory T cells subsets as potential prognostic markers for changing viral loads and/or disease progression using the SHIV-infected rhesus macaque model. Relative to long-term non-progressors with low/undetectable viral loads, those with chronic plasma viremia, but clinically healthy, exhibited significantly lower numbers and functional impairment of CD4(+) T cells, but not CD8(+) T cells, in terms of IL-2 production by central memory subset in response to PMA and ionomycine (PMA+I) stimulation. Highly viremic animals showed impaired cytokine-production by all T cells subsets. These results suggest that functional impairment of CD4(+) T cells in general, and of central memory subset in particular, may be a potential indicator/predictor of chronic infection with immune dysfunction, which could be assayed relatively easily using non-specific PMA+I stimulation.

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