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J Clin Immunol. 2004 Nov;24(6):702-9.

Elevation of immune activation in kenyan women is associated with alterations in immune function: implications for vaccine development.

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Department of Medical Microbiology, University of Manitoba, William Avenue, Winnipeg, MB, Canada.


The infectious burden leading to immune activation can vary between different populations and lead to various immune dysfunctions. We compared the effect of immune activation on apoptosis and T cell function in HIV uninfected individuals from Nairobi, Kenya (n=34), and Winnipeg, Canada (n=10). Women from Nairobi had a significantly greater number of CD8+ T cells expressing the activation markers CD38 and HLA DR. Kenyan women also had significantly higher levels of CTLA-4+ CD4 and CD8+ T cells, and reduced levels of CD28+ CD8+ cells. Levels of CD95+ CD4+ T cells were higher in Kenyan women and, correspondingly, showed higher levels of spontaneous apoptosis. Kenyan women also demonstrated hyper-responsiveness to T cell activation as assessed by interferon gamma production. This study demonstrates that in a population of Kenyan women with high levels of T cell activation, there were also elevated levels of T cell apoptotic death and hyper-responsiveness. These differences may influence the efficacy of immune responses to pathogens and must be considered when testing candidate vaccines.

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