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J Infect Dis. 2004 Aug 15;190(4):713-21. Epub 2004 Jul 20.

Loss of viral control in early HIV-1 infection is temporally associated with sequential escape from CD8+ T cell responses and decrease in HIV-1-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cell frequencies.

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Institute for Microbiology, Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule, Zurich, Switzerland.


The outcome of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection is related to the set-point plasma virus load (pVL) that emerges after primary HIV-1 infection (PHI). This set-point pVL generally remains stable but eventually increases with progression to disease. However, the events leading to loss of viremic control are poorly understood. Here, we describe an individual who presented with symptomatic PHI and subsequently progressed rapidly, after an initial period of 1 year during which viral replication was well controlled. Escalation of viral replication in this atypical case was preceded by the emergence of escape variants in many epitopes targeted by dominant CD8+ T cell responses and a marked decrease in HIV-1-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cell frequencies. There were no changes in viral tropism, replication kinetics, or neutralizing antibody titers. These findings demonstrate the temporal relationship between viral escape from CD8+ T cell activity, decrease in HIV-1-specific T cell frequencies, and loss of control of viral replication.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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