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Nat Med. 2000 Sep;6(9):1036-42.

Increased cell division but not thymic dysfunction rapidly affects the T-cell receptor excision circle content of the naive T cell population in HIV-1 infection.

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Department of Clinical Viro-Immunology, CLB, and the Laboratory for Experimental and Clinical Immunology, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Plesmanlaan 125, 1066CX, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Recent thymic emigrants can be identified by T cell receptor excision circles (TRECs) formed during T-cell receptor rearrangement. Decreasing numbers of TRECs have been observed with aging and in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 infected individuals, suggesting thymic impairment. Here, we show that in healthy individuals, declining thymic output will affect the TREC content only when accompanied by naive T-cell division. The rapid decline in TRECs observed during HIV-1 infection and the increase following HAART are better explained not by thymic impairment, but by changes in peripheral T-cell division rates. Our data indicate that TREC content in healthy individuals is only indirectly related to thymic output, and in HIV-1 infection is mainly affected by immune activation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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