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Virology. 2002 Dec 20;304(2):246-64.

Comprehensive analyses of a unique HIV-1-infected nonprogressor reveal a complex association of immunobiological mechanisms in the context of replication-incompetent infection.

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Retroviral Genetics Laboratory, Centre for Virus Research, Westmead Millennium Institute, Westmead Hospital, University of Sydney, Westmead, New South Wales 2145, Australia.


We recently demonstrated that a unique HIV-1-infected nonprogressor was infected with a nonevolving replication-incompetent HIV-1 strain, showing a total absence of viral evolution in vivo. Potent immune responses against HIV-1 were observed in his PBMC, despite an apparent lack of viral replication for at least 8 years. His PBMC resisted superinfection with CCR5, CXCR4, and dual-tropic HIV-1 strains, although highly purified CD4+ T cells supported infection, but without any visible cytopathic effect. Potent noncytolytic CD8+ T cell antiviral activity was shown to protect his PBMC from productive infection. This activity was not mediated by several known chemokines or IFN-gamma, which were produced at high levels after PHA activation of his CD8+ T cells, indicating the action of other CAF-like CD8 factors. This antiviral activity was a memory response, induced by HIV-specific stimulation to similar levels observed by PHA stimulation, but absent in ex vivo resting T cells. Immunological mechanisms associated with this antiviral suppressive activity included vigorous Gag-specific helper T cell proliferative responses and high-level IFN-gamma release by both CD4 and CD8 T cells. These responses were broadly directed against multiple Gag epitopes, both previously reported and some novel epitopes. Strong HIV-specific helper T cell function was also associated with strong neutralizing antibodies. Understanding how to induce these protective immune responses in other individuals could provide a major step forward in the design of effective immunotherapies or vaccines against HIV infection.

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