Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
PLoS One. 2009;4(2):e4408. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0004408. Epub 2009 Feb 9.

High CD8+ T cell activation marks a less differentiated HIV-1 specific CD8+ T cell response that is not altered by suppression of viral replication.

Author information

  • 1Department of Medicine, HIV/AIDS Division, San Francisco General Hospital, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, United States of America.



The relationship of elevated T cell activation to altered T cell differentiation profiles, each defining features of HIV-1 infection, has not been extensively explored. We hypothesized that anti-retroviral suppression of T cell activation levels would lead to alterations in the T cell differentiation of total and HIV-1 specific CD8+ T cell responses among recently HIV-1 infected adults.


We performed a longitudinal study simultaneously measuring T cell activation and maturation markers on both total and antigen-specific T cells in recently infected adults: prior to treatment; after the initiation of HAART; and after treatment was halted. Prior to treatment, HIV-1 Gag-specific CD8+ T cells were predominantly of a highly activated, intermediate memory (CD27+CD28-) phenotype, while CMV pp65-specific CD8+ T cells showed a late memory (CD27-CD28-), low activation phenotype. Participants with the highest fraction of late memory (CD27-CD28-) HIV-1-specific CD8+ T cells had higher CD4+ T cell counts (rho = +0.74, p = 0.004). In turn, those with the highest fraction of intermediate memory (CD27+ CD28-) HIV-1 specific CD8+ T cells had high total CD8+ T cell activation (rho = +0.68, p = 0.01), indicating poorer long-term clinical outcomes. The HIV-1 specific T cell differentiation profile was not readily altered by suppression of T cell activation following HAART treatment.


A more differentiated, less activated HIV-1 specific CD8+ T cell response may be clinically protective. Anti-retroviral treatment initiated two to four months after infection lowered T cell activation but had no effect on the differentiation profile of the HIV-1-specific response. Intervention during the first month of acute infection may be required to shift the differentiation phenotype of HIV-1 specific responses to a more clinically favorable profile.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center