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AIDS. 2003 Oct 17;17(15):2149-57.

Detection of high frequencies of HIV-1 cross-subtype reactive CD8 T lymphocytes in the peripheral blood of HIV-1-infected Kenyans.

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1
US Military HIV Research Program, Suite 200, 13 Taft Court, Rockville, MD 20850, USA. jcurrier@hivresearch.org

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To quantitate rapidly the frequency of HIV-1 subtype-specific and broadly HIV-1 cross-subtype-reactive CD8 T cells in the peripheral blood of HIV-1-infected individuals from a geographical region of multiple subtype endemicity.

METHODS:

Autologous B-lymphoblastoid cell lines infected with recombinant vaccinia-viruses expressing gag, env and nef gene products from HIV-1 subtypes A-H were used as antigen-presenting cells to stimulate CD8 T cells from cryopreserved peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Cross-subtype and subtype-specific CD8 cell responses were assessed by flow cytometry for the upregulation of IFN-gamma gene expression in specifically activated CD8 T cells.

RESULTS:

Strikingly high frequencies of circulating CD8 T cells (up to 11.3% of peripheral CD8 T cells) with specificity for HIV-1 were detectable using this methodology. Both subtype-specific and broadly cross-subtype-reactive CD8 T cells were detected as assessed by IFN-gamma production after stimulation. The pattern of cross-subtype reactivity appeared to be random when the results were assessed as a population, but analysis of the full-length sequence of the infecting virus for each individual showed some skewing of the CD8 cell response towards the infecting subtype.

CONCLUSION:

High frequencies of HIV-1 cross-subtype-reactive peripheral CD8 T cells can be detected in individuals from a multiple subtype endemic region, providing an incentive for vaccine advancement in such locations. The future assessment of the subtype specificity of cellular immune responses requires full-length sequencing of the infecting virus in conjunction with a comprehensive analysis of phenotypic and functional parameters.

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