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Clin Exp Immunol. 1999 Aug;117(2):335-42.

Decreased CD40 ligand induction in CD4 T cells and dysregulated IL-12 production during HIV infection.

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Laboratory of Immunology, Department of Microbiology, Institut of Tropical Medicine, Antwerpen, Belgium.


During HIV infection various cytokines are overproduced in early stages, whereas in advanced disease cytokines of the T helper 1 type (e.g. interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma)) are selectively deficient. During antigenic stimulation, the production of type-1 cytokines is enhanced by IL-12, secreted by antigen-presenting cells (APC) after their interaction with activated CD4 T cells. Two factors are essential in this process: priming APC with IFN-gamma and triggering the CD40 receptor on APC by CD40 ligand (CD40L). In view of the importance of this pathway, we compared its regulation in HIV-infected and control subjects. After cross-linking of the T cell receptor (TCR)/CD3 complex, the proportional expression of CD40L was similar on CD4+ T cells from controls and from patients with high circulating CD4 T counts (> 500/microl), but CD40L up-regulation was significantly reduced in patients with more advanced disease. Simultaneous triggering of the costimulatory receptor CD28 on T cells through its natural ligand CD80 partly corrected the CD40L defect in patients with intermediate CD4 T counts (200-500), but not in AIDS patients. Early production of IFN-gamma was preserved in lymphocytes from HIV+ patients. The expression of CD40 on peripheral monocytes from HIV+ subjects was increased in a disease stage-related fashion. Stimulation of mononuclear cells through cell-bound CD40L and soluble IFN-gamma induced significantly higher IL-12 in cultures from patients with > 200 circulating CD4 T cells, whereas IL-12 production was marginally decreased in cultures from patients with < 200 CD4 T cells, compared with healthy control cultures. In conclusion, our data suggest that impaired CD40L induction on CD4 T cells contributes to deficient type-1 responses through decreased IL-12 production in AIDS infection, whereas enhanced CD40-mediated IL-12 production in less advanced stages might contribute to increased levels of various cytokines in early disease.

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