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AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2000 May 1;16(7):689-97.

Early activation and proliferation of T cells in simian immunodeficiency virus-infected rhesus monkeys.

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Institut für Virologie und Immunobiologic, Universität Würzburg, Germany.


To longitudinally determine T cell activation and turnover in early simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection of macaques, immunological and virological parameters were monitored in 10 SIV-infected animals starting before infection until 40 weeks postinfection (wpi). Lymphocyte subsets in blood and lymph nodes (LNs) were characterized by three-color flow cytometry for expression of markers of activation, proliferation, and differentiation. As early as 1 wpi, CD69 expression was upregulated both on CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, indicative of an early activation of these cells. Whereas this activation led to increased proliferation, determined by expression of Ki-67, and absolute numbers of CD8+ T cells, CD4+ T cells showed a decreased expression of Ki-67 and reduced counts in blood at 2 wpi. Later, the percentage of Ki-67-expressing CD4+ T cells in blood and LNs increased again above preinfection levels in most animals but remained low in two monkeys progressing to AIDS. These findings suggest that T cells are activated after SIV infection, leading to increased T cell proliferation already in the early asymptomatic phase. In addition, we found a correlation between the capacity to regenerate CD4+ T cells by peripheral proliferation and the disease course. Moreover, our data indicate that the increased peripheral T cell proliferation during immunodeficiency virus infection is probably not caused by the effort of the immune system to maintain T cell homeostasis but may be a reflection of the ongoing immune response against the virus.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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