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AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2000 Nov 20;16(17):1805-7.

Naive CD4+ T lymphocytes express high levels of Bcl-2 after highly active antiretroviral therapy for HIV infection.

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Department of Clinical Immunology, University of Brescia, Italy.


The mechanism causing the increasing number of peripheral T cells after highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is still unclear. The bcl-2 oncogene prevents spontaneous apoptosis (SA) in lymphocytes. Spontaneous apoptosis could be a determinant of HIV immunodeficiency and can be reversed by HAART including protease inhibitors (PI-HAART). The aims of our study were to measure Bcl-2 protein expression in memory (CD45RO+) and naive (CD45RO-) CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocytes of HIV+ patients and to correlate it with efficacy of PI-HAART. Forty-nine HIV+ patients (cases) and 26 HIV- individuals (controls) were evaluated. Patients receiving PI-HAART, and who had undetectable HIV plasma viral load (VL-, n = 21), had higher levels of Bcl-2 than did VL+ patients (n = 28), both in CD4+ cells (p < 0.0001) and in CD8+ cells (p < 0.001). VL+ patients had lower Bcl-2 levels than did controls in CD8+ cells (p = 0.02), but not in CD4+ cells (p > 0.05). Interestingly, VL- patients had higher Bcl-2 expression than did controls both in CD4+ cells (p < 0.0001) and in CD8+ cells (p = 0.03). In a subcohort of the same patients, Bcl-2 was significantly higher in VL- patients (n = 10) than in controls (n = 12), both in naive CD4+ cells (p < 0.0001) and in naive CD8+ cells (p = 0.01). Naive CD4+ cells had higher Bcl-2 expression in VL- than in VL+ patients (p = 0.01). In a subsequent longitudinal study of nine HIV patients, naive CD4+ cells increased after effective PI-HAART (p = 0.03), which paralleled an increase in Bcl-2 expression in the same cells (p = 0.02). In conclusion, upregulation of bcl-2 could be a mechanism of immune reconstitution of naive CD4+ T cells induced by PI-HAART.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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