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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 May 17;102(20):7239-44. Epub 2005 May 4.

HIV-1-specific IFN-gamma/IL-2-secreting CD8 T cells support CD4-independent proliferation of HIV-1-specific CD8 T cells.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Immunology and Allergy, Laboratory of AIDS Immunopathogenesis, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, University of Lausanne, 1011 Lausanne, Switzerland.


Functional and phenotypic characterization of virus-specific CD8 T cells against cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, influenza (flu), and HIV-1 were performed on the basis of the ability of CD8 T cells to secrete IFN-gamma and IL-2, to proliferate, and to express CD45RA and CCR7. Two functional distinct populations of CD8 T cells were identified: (i) dual IFN-gamma/IL-2-secreting cells and (ii) single IFN-gamma-secreting cells. Virus-specific IFN-gamma/IL-2-secreting CD8 T cells were CD45RA-CCR7-, whereas single IFN-gamma CD8 T cells were either CD45RA-CCR7- or CD45RA+CCR7-. The proportion of virus-specific IFN-gamma/IL-2-secreting CD8 T cells correlated with that of proliferating CD8 T cells, and the loss of HIV-1-specific IL-2-secreting CD8 T cells was associated with that of HIV-1-specific CD8 T cell proliferation. Substantial proliferation of virus-specific CD8 T cells (including HIV-1-specific CD8 T cells) was also observed in CD4 T cell-depleted populations or after stimulation with MHC class I tetramer-peptide complexes. IL-2 was the factor responsible for the CD4-independent CD8 T cell proliferation. These results indicate that IFN-gamma/IL-2-secreting CD8 T cells may promote antigen-specific proliferation of CD8 T cells even in the absence of helper CD4 T cells.

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