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J Virol. 2007 Jun;81(11):5819-28. Epub 2007 Mar 21.

Elevated expression levels of inhibitory receptor programmed death 1 on simian immunodeficiency virus-specific CD8 T cells during chronic infection but not after vaccination.

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  • 1Vaccine Research Center, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30329, USA.


Here, we study the temporal expression of the inhibitory receptor programmed death 1 (PD-1) on simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) Gag-specific T cells following pathogenic SIV infection or following vaccination with a DNA/modified vaccinia virus Ankara (DNA/MVA) vaccine and simian/human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) challenge in macaques. Following infection, the majority (>95%) of Gag-specific CD8 T cells expressed PD-1, and the level of PD-1 expression per cell increased over time. The level of PD-1 expression in lymph nodes and rectal mucosal tissue, the major sites of virus replication, was higher compared to blood. In vitro blockade of PD-1 resulted in enhanced proliferation of SIV-specific CD8 as well as CD4 T cells. In contrast, following vaccination, the majority of peak effector Gag-specific CD8 T cells expressed low levels of PD-1, and these levels decreased further as the cells differentiated into memory cells. In addition, following SHIV challenge of these vaccinated macaques, the level of PD-1 expression on Gag-specific CD8 T cells correlated positively with plasma viremia. These results demonstrate that SIV-specific CD8 T cells express PD-1 after exposure to antigen but downregulate expression under conditions of antigen clearance and enhance expression under conditions of antigen persistence. They also demonstrate that the level of PD-1 expression per cell rather than the presence or absence of expression plays an important role in regulating CD8 T-cell dysfunction in pathogenic SIV infection. In addition, they demonstrate that similar to HIV infection, the PD-1:PD-1 ligand inhibitory pathway is operational in pathogenic SIV infection, and the macaque/SIV model would be ideal to test the safety and therapeutic benefit of blocking this pathway in vivo.

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