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J Clin Invest. 2000 May;105(10):1407-17.

HIV-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes traffic to lymph nodes and localize at sites of HIV replication and cell death.

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Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA.

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We have tracked the in vivo migration and have identified in vivo correlates of cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) activity in HIV-seropositive subjects infused with autologous gene-marked CD8(+) HIV-specific CTL. The number of circulating gene-marked CTL ranged from 1.6 to 3.5% shortly after infusion to less than 0.5% 2 weeks later. Gene-marked CTL were present in the lymph node at 4.5- to 11-fold excess and colocalized within parafollicular regions of the lymph node adjacent to cells expressing HIV tat fusion transcripts, a correlate of virus replication. The CTL clones expressed the CCR5 receptor and localized among HIV-infected cells expressing the ligands MIP-1alpha and MIP-1beta, CC-chemokines produced at sites of virus replication. Aggregates of apoptotic cells and cells expressing granzyme-B localized within these same sites. In contrast, lymph node sections from untreated HIV-seropositive subjects, all with significant viral burden (> 50,000 HIV RNA copies/mL plasma), showed no CC-chemokine expression and exhibited only sporadic and randomly distributed cells expressing granzymes and/or apoptotic cells. These studies show that the infused CTL specifically migrate to sites of HIV replication and retain their antigen-specific cytolytic potential. Moreover, these studies provide a methodology that will facilitate studies of both the magnitude and functional phenotype of Ag-specific CD8(+) T cells in vivo.

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