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Blood. 2001 Nov 15;98(10):3016-21.

Reduced blood CD123+ (lymphoid) and CD11c+ (myeloid) dendritic cell numbers in primary HIV-1 infection.

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Unité INSERM 445, Immunologie des pathologies infectieuses et tumorales, Département d'Immunologie, Institut Cochin de Génétique Moléculaire and Laboratoire de Virologie, Hôpital St-Vincent de Paul, Paris, France.


Successful immunologic control of HIV infection is achieved only in rare individuals. Dendritic cells (DCs) are required for specific antigen presentation to naive T lymphocytes and for antiviral, type I interferon secretion. Two major blood DC populations are found: CD11c+ (myeloid) DCs, which secrete IL-12, and CD123+ (IL-3-receptor+) DCs (lymphoid), which secrete type I interferons in response to viral stimuli. The authors have previously found a decreased proportion of blood CD11c+ DCs in chronic HIV+ patients. In this study, 26 to 57 days after infection and before treatment, CD123+ and CD11c+ DC numbers were dramatically reduced in 13 HIV+ patients compared with 13 controls (P =.0002 and P =.001, respectively). After 6 to 12 months of highly active antiretroviral therapy, DC subpopulation average numbers remained low, but CD123+ DC numbers increased again in 5 of 13 patients. A strong correlation was found between this increase and CD4 T-cell count increase (P =.0009) and plasma viral load decrease (P =.009). Reduced DC numbers may participate in the functional impairment of HIV-specific CD4+ T cells and be responsible for the low type I interferon responsiveness already known in HIV infection. The restoration of DC numbers may be predictive of immune restoration and may be a goal for immunotherapy to enhance viral control in a larger proportion of patients.

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