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AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 1999 Jul 20;15(11):973-81.

Lymphoproliferative response to HIV type 1 p24 in long-term survivors of HIV type 1 infection is predictive of persistent AIDS-free infection.

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Department of Clinical Viro-Immunology, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


To establish immunologic correlates of progression to AIDS in long-term survivors of HIV-1 infection, HIV-1-specific T cell-mediated responses, together with T cell reactivity to recall antigens, were studied in frozen samples collected after 5 and 8 years of documented HIV-1 infection. Eight of 21 homosexual men, who remained asymptomatic and maintained CD4+ T cell numbers >400 cells/microl for 9 years of HIV-1 infection, progressed to AIDS (CDC 1993 definition) within 12.5 years of infection (late progressors, LPs). The remainders showed minimal deterioration of immune parameters (long-term nonprogressors, LTNPs). CD4+ T cell numbers and T cell function measured at years 5 and 8 of follow-up were comparable in the two groups. At both time points responses to recall antigens did not significantly differ between the two groups, although a significant decline of lymphoproliferative responses to Candida and tetanus toxoid was observed in LPs. Circulating HIV-1-specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte precursors were found in broad frequency ranges in both LPs and LTNPs and, similarly, no significant differences were found in comparing the breadth of serum neutralizing activity against heterologous HIV-1 primary isolates. In contrast, lymphoproliferative responses to p24gag, but not p17gag or gp160env, were detected only in LTNPs and were totally absent in LPs at both time points (p < 0.01). Our data suggest that the presence of circulating p24-specific CD4+ T cells may reflect effective viral control and be predictive of subsequent favorable clinical course in long-term asymptomatic individuals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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