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Blood. 2011 Apr 7;117(14):3799-808. doi: 10.1182/blood-2010-12-322727. Epub 2011 Feb 2.

Increased HIV-specific CD8+ T-cell cytotoxic potential in HIV elite controllers is associated with T-bet expression.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, University of Pennsylvania, 3610 Hamilton Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Recent data suggest that CD8+ T-cell effector activity is an important component in the control of HIV replication in elite controllers (ECs). One critical element of CD8+ T-cell effector function and differentiation is the T-box transcription factor T-bet. In the present study, we assessed T-bet expression, together with the effector proteins perforin, granzyme A (Grz A), granzyme B (Grz B), and granulysin, in HIV-specific CD8+ T cells from ECs (n = 20), chronically infected progressors (CPs; n = 18), and highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART)-suppressed individuals (n = 19). Compared with the other cohort groups, HIV-specific CD8+ T cells among ECs demonstrated a superior ability to express perforin and Grz B, but with no detectable difference in the levels of Grz A or granulysin. We also observed higher levels of T-bet in HIV-specific CD8+ T cells from ECs, with an ensuing positive correlation between T-bet and levels of both perforin and Grz B. Moreover, HIV-specific CD8+ T cells in ECs up-regulated T-bet to a greater extent than CPs after in vitro expansion, with concomitant up-regulation of perforin and Grz B. These results suggest that T-bet may play an important role in driving effector function, and its modulation may lead to enhanced effector activity against HIV.

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