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Immunity. 2001 Dec;15(6):871-82.

Increased CD95/Fas-induced apoptosis of HIV-specific CD8(+) T cells.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, MCP Hahnemann University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19129, USA.


Why HIV-specific CD8(+) T cells ultimately fail to clear or control HIV infection is not known. We show here that HIV-specific CD8(+) T cells exhibit increased sensitivity to CD95/Fas-induced apoptosis. This apoptosis is 3-fold higher compared to CMV-specific CD8(+) T cells from the same patients. HIV-specific CD8(+) T cells express the CD45RA(-)CD62L(-) but lack the CD45RA(+)CD62L(-) T cell effector memory (T(EM)) phenotype. This skewing is not found in CMV- and EBV-specific CD8(+) T cells in HIV-infected individuals. CD95/Fas-induced apoptosis is much higher in the CD45RA(-)CD62L(-) T(EM) cells. However, cytotoxicity and IFNgamma production by HIV-specific CD8(+) T cells is not impaired. Our data suggest that the survival and differentiation of HIV-specific CD8(+) T cells may be compromised by CD95/Fas apoptosis induced by FasL-expressing HIV-infected cells.

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