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J Virol. 2011 Feb;85(4):1696-705. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01120-10. Epub 2010 Dec 8.

Natural suppression of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 replication is mediated by transitional memory CD8+ T cells.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143-1270, USA.


HIV replication is suppressed in vitro by a CD8(+) cell noncytotoxic antiviral response (CNAR). This activity directly correlates with an asymptomatic clinical state. The objective of this study was to identify the phenotype of CD8(+) cell subsets having strong CNAR activity. CD8(+) cell subset frequencies and CNAR levels were measured for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-uninfected individuals and three groups of HIV type 1 (HIV-1)-infected individuals: asymptomatic individuals with low-level viremia (vHIV), antiretroviral-drug-treated subjects with undetectable virus levels (TxHIV), and therapy-naïve aviremic elite controllers (EC). CD8(+) cells from the vHIV individuals exhibited the highest HIV-suppressing activity and had elevated frequencies of CD45RA(-) CD27(+) and PD-1(+) (CD279(+)) cells. Functional assessments of CD8(+) cells sorted into distinct subsets established that maximal CNAR activity was mediated by CD45RA(-) CCR7(-) CD27(+) and PD-1(+) CD8(+) cells. T cell receptor (TCR) repertoire profiles of CD8(+) cell subsets having strong CNAR activity exhibited increased perturbations in comparison to those of inactive subsets. Together, these studies suggest that CNAR is driven by HIV replication and that this antiviral activity is associated with oligoclonally expanded activated CD8(+) cells expressing PD-1 and having a transitional memory cell phenotype. The findings better describe the identity of CD8(+) cells showing CNAR and should facilitate the evaluation of this important immune response in studies of HIV pathogenesis, resistance to infection, and vaccine development.

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