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Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 2002 May;9(3):525-9.

Comparison of human immunodeficiency virus antigens as stimulants for lymphocyte proliferation assays.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.


CD4 proliferative responses to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) type 1 (HIV-1) p24 (gag) antigen inversely correlate with the plasma viral load in HIV-infected subjects who control viral replication without antiretroviral therapy. Use of a single HIV-1 protein to assess CD4 proliferative responses may not reflect the global response to this pathogen. We compared the abilities of HIV p24 and gp120 antigens from two different vendors, an inactivated whole HIV-1 MN virion preparation and an HIV-1E culture supernatant antigen, to elicit proliferative responses in HIV-seropositive and HIV-seronegative donors. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 12 HIV-seropositive donors (each with HIV-1 loads <4,000 copies/ml of plasma, >350 CD4 T lymphocytes/mm(3), and no antiretroviral therapy) and 15 HIV-seronegative donors were assessed with multiple concentrations of each stimulant by standard lymphocyte proliferation assays. Wide variations in response rates were found, with zero, three, five, and eight individuals demonstrating stimulation indices of >3 for the HIV culture antigen supernatant, gp120, p24, and inactivated whole-virus preparations, respectively. These results suggest that the use of the inactivated whole virus resulted in a more sensitive assay for detection of CD4 T-lymphocyte function in HIV-infected subjects.

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