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AIDS. 2014 Jan 28;28(3):311-6. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0000000000000162.

Cytomegalovirus-specific responses of CD38⁺ memory T cells are skewed towards IFN-γ and dissociated from CD154 in HIV-1 infection.

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  • 1aDepartment of Research in Immunology, National Institute for Respiratory Diseases (INER), Mexico bDepartment of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.



Despite the strong correlation of T-cell CD38 expression with HIV disease progression, evidence linking CD38 expression and dysfunction at the single cell level is scant. Since CD38⁺ memory CD4⁺ T cells, especially those from HIV-infected persons, fail to induce CD154 (CD40L) while responding to a superantigen with interferon (IFN)-γ or interleukin (IL)-2, we aimed to determine if recall responses to cytomegalovirus (CMV) were similarly affected in the CD38⁺ memory CD4⁺ T-cell subpopulation.


Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from HIV+ patients and healthy controls were incubated 14 h with CMV antigens, the superantigen Staphylococcus aureus enterotoxin B or medium, and labeled for identification of central memory (T(CM)) and effector memory (T(EM)) CD4⁺ T cells, and for the intracellular detection of induced CD154, IFN-γ and/or IL-2 by flow cytometry.


Compared with CD38⁻ cells, CD38⁺ T(CM) cells from patients had less CD40L induction after CMV stimulation, and increased IFN-γ response. Patients' CD38⁺ T(EM) cells showed a lower IL-2 response, and tended to have a greater IFN-γ response, in which CD154 induction frequently failed. CMV-specific responses of patients' CD38⁺ T(CM) and T(EM) cells were dominated by IFN-γ, and almost all IL-2⁺ cells co-expressed IFN-γ. IL-2 responses to the polyclonal activator S. aureus enterotoxin B were also significantly less frequent among CD38⁺ T(CM) and T(EM) cells than in CD38⁻ cells.


Patients' CD38⁺ memory CD4⁺T-cell responses to CMV favor the effector cytokine IFN-γ over IL-2, in the context of deficient CD154 induction, which may limit co-stimulation, proliferation and survival.

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