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AIDS. 2000 Dec 22;14(18):2823-9.

Increased levels of activated subsets of CD4 T cells add to the prognostic value of low CD4 T cell counts in a cohort of HIV-infected drug users.

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Department of Immunology, University General Hospital Gregorio Marañón, Complutense University, Madrid, Spain.



To identify subsets of CD4 T lymphocytes that can predict the development of AIDS and to assess whether increased levels of these cellular markers could provide additional independent prognostic information to the CD4 T cell count and plasma HIV-1-RNA levels.


In a prospective study, a cohort of 85 HIV-positive intravenous drug users [clinical categories of the CDC classification A (n = 48) and B (n = 37)] were followed for a period of 37+/-13 months. Memory and activated CD4 and CD8 T cells were quantitated by three-colour flow cytometry at baseline and expressed as a percentage of total CD4 and CD8 lymphocytes. Clinical evaluations were performed at 6 month intervals. The relationships between these lymphocyte subsets and progression to AIDS were studied using Kaplan-Meier plots and proportional hazards regression models.


After adjustment for the level of CD4 T cells and plasma HIV-1-RNA levels, the elevation in the subset CD4+CD38+DR+ was the marker within the functionally distinct subsets of CD4 T lymphocytes with additional prognostic value in bivariate Cox regression models. In multivariate models, increased percentages of CD4+CD38+DR+ T cells provided the strongest independent prognostic information for progression to AIDS (relative hazard, 1.07; P < 0.0001).


Our results suggest that high levels of CD4+CD38+HLA-DR+ T cells reflect the increasing degree of CD4 T cell activation during the progression of HIV infection, and could be used together with the CD4 T cell and HIV-RNA levels to evaluate more accurately the progressive cellular immune impairment associated with the risk of progression to AIDS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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