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AIDS. 2001 Sep 28;15(14):1749-56.

Poor CD4 T cell restoration after suppression of HIV-1 replication may reflect lower thymic function.

Author information

1
Division of Infectious Diseases and the Center for AIDS Research, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals of Cleveland, Ohio 44106, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To characterize immune phenotype and thymic function in HIV-1-infected adults with excellent virologic and poor immunologic responses to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).

METHODS:

Cross-sectional study of patients with CD4 T cell rises of > or = 200 x 10(6) cells/l (CD4 responders; n = 10) or < 100 x 10(6) cells/l (poor responders; n = 12) in the first year of therapy.

RESULTS:

Poor responders were older than CD4 responders (46 versus 38 years; P < 0.01) and, before HAART, had higher CD4 cell counts (170 versus 35 x 106 cells/l; P = 0.11) and CD8 cell counts (780 versus 536 x 10(6) cells/l; P = 0.02). After a median of 160 weeks of therapy, CD4 responders had more circulating naive phenotype (CD45+CD62L+) CD4 cells (227 versus 44 x 10(6) cells/l; P = 0.001) and naive phenotype CD8 cells (487 versus 174 x 10(6) cells/l; P = 0.004) than did poor responders (after 130 weeks). Computed tomographic scans showed minimal thymic tissue in 11/12 poor responders and abundant tissue in 7/10 responders (P = 0.006). Poor responders had fewer CD4 cells containing T cell receptor excision circles (TREC) compared with CD4 responders (2.12 versus 27.5 x 10(6) cells/l; P = 0.004) and had shorter telomeres in CD4 cells (3.8 versus 5.3 kb; P = 0.05). Metabolic labeling studies with deuterated glucose indicated that the lower frequency of TREC-containing lymphocytes in poor responders was not caused by accelerated proliferation kinetics.

CONCLUSION:

Poor CD4 T cell increases observed in some patients with good virologic response to HAART may be caused by failure of thymic T cell production.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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