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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Dec 5;97(25):13778-83.

Impact of HIV-1 infection and highly active antiretroviral therapy on the kinetics of CD4+ and CD8+ T cell turnover in HIV-infected patients.

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Science Applications International Corporation-Frederick, Clinical Services Program, National Cancer Institute-Frederick Cancer Research and Development Center, Frederick, MD 21702, USA.


To evaluate the effects of HIV infection on T cell turnover, we examined levels of DNA synthesis in lymph node and peripheral blood mononuclear cell subsets by using ex vivo labeling with BrdUrd. Compared with healthy controls (n = 67), HIV-infected patients (n = 57) had significant increases in the number and fraction of dividing CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells. Higher percentages of dividing CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells were noted in patients with the higher viral burdens. No direct correlation was noted between rates of T cell turnover and CD4(+) T cell counts. Marked reductions in CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cell proliferation were seen in 11/11 patients 1-12 weeks after initiation of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). These reductions persisted for the length of the study (16-72 weeks). Decreases in naive T cell proliferation correlated with increases in the levels of T cell receptor rearrangement excision circles. Division of CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells increased dramatically in association with rapid increases in HIV-1 viral loads in 9/9 patients 5 weeks after termination of HAART and declined to pre-HAART-termination levels 8 weeks after reinitiation of therapy. These data are consistent with the hypothesis that HIV-1 infection induces a viral burden-related, global activation of the immune system, leading to increases in lymphocyte proliferation.

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