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J Infect Dis. 2001 Nov 15;184(10):1268-78. Epub 2001 Oct 15.

Quantitative and qualitative assessment of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-specific CD4+ T cell immunity to gag in HIV-1-infected individuals with differential disease progression: reciprocal interferon-gamma and interleukin-10 responses.

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Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-specific CD4(+) T cell response was investigated in 33 untreated HIV-1-infected individuals, using highly sensitive ELISPOT assays and intracellular flow cytometry. The median frequencies of interferon (IFN)-gamma-producing HIV-1 gag-specific CD4(+) T cells did not correlate significantly with control of viral replication or progression. HIV-1 gag-specific interleukin (IL)-4-producing cells were rarely detected. Circulating frequencies of CD4(+) T cells constitutively producing IL-10, however, were significantly higher in individuals with progression or active replication. In 17 of 30 HIV-1-infected individuals, gag antigen was observed to induce IL-10 production from CD4(+) T cells. In 2 individuals, early treatment of acute HIV-1 infection "rescued" low to undetectable gag-specific IFN-gamma-producing CD4(+) T cell responses and dramatically down-regulated constitutive IL-10 production from circulating CD4(+) T cells. The detection of HIV-1-specific IL-10-inducing CD4(+) T cells in HIV-1-infected individuals suggests that HIV-1 may directly subvert specific immune responses by IL-10 induction.

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