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J Infect Dis. 2015 Jun 1;211(11):1726-34. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiu669. Epub 2014 Dec 8.

Course and Clinical Significance of CD8+ T-Cell Counts in a Large Cohort of HIV-Infected Individuals.

Author information

Department of Infectious Diseases.
Department of Infectious Diseases, Copenhagen University Hospital, Hvidovre Hospital, Denmark.
Department of Clinical Immunology.
The Tissue Type Laboratory, Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen.



To examine trajectories of CD8(+) T-cell counts before and after combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected individuals and associations with mortality.


CD8(+) T-cell counts were measured in 3882 HIV-infected individuals who received care in Copenhagen during 1995-2012. Reference values were obtained from 1230 persons from the background population. Mortality rate ratios were estimated by Poisson regression.


CD8(+) T-cell counts were elevated during untreated HIV infection and remained elevated through 10 years of cART. A slight drop of 130 cells/µL (interquartile range, -160 to 410 cells/μL) in the median CD8(+) T-cell count was observed after cART initiation. CD8(+) T-cell counts stabilized at approximately 900 cells/µL (95th percentile of the background population, 835 cells/µL). Markedly elevated CD8(+) T-cell counts at cART initiation were associated with a poor increase in the CD4(+) T-cell count (relative risk, 2.22; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.42-3.48). Individuals with a CD8(+) T-cell count of <500 cells/µL 1 year after cART initiation had an increased mortality rate (mortality rate ratio, 1.73; 95% CI, 1.29-2.32) and a higher proportion of deaths attributable to AIDS-related conditions, compared with individuals with CD8(+) T-cell counts of ≥500 cells/µL. After receiving cART for 10 years, a CD8(+) T-cell count of >1500 cells/µL was associated with increased non-AIDS-related mortality (mortality rate ratio, 1.82; 95% CI, 1.09-3.22), compared with a CD4(+) T-cell count of 500-1500 cells/µL.


CD8(+) T-cell counts are elevated during HIV infection and do not normalize despite long-term cART. Low CD8(+) T-cell counts are associated with increased AIDS-related mortality. Marked elevations in CD8(+) T-cell counts after long-term cART are associated with increased non-AIDS-related mortality.


CD8; HIV; immune activation; immunological recovery; mortality

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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