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J Immunol. 1995 Apr 1;154(7):3506-15.

Functional studies of epidermal Langerhans cells and blood monocytes in HIV-infected persons.

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Dermatology Branch, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892.


APC dysfunction may be important in immune dysregulation associated with HIV disease. Langerhans cells, epidermal APC, can be infected with HIV, although their function in HIV-infected persons has not been studied. Therefore, we studied the immunologic function of Langerhans cells, in parallel with blood APC (enriched for monocytes/macrophages (M phi) function, in 21 HIV-seropositive (HIV+) and 21 HIV-seronegative volunteers, including three monozygotic twin pairs discordant for HIV serology. Langerhans cells from HIV+ patients were quantitatively normal and expressed normal levels of HLA-DR. However, Langerhans cells from AIDS patients and M phi from both AIDS and HIV+ non-AIDS patients stimulated allogeneic T cells less well compared with control APC. In addition, decreased recall Ag- and mitogen-induced T cell responsiveness was observed in HIV+ patients using either autologous Langerhans cells or autologous M phi as APC/accessory cells. Interestingly, Langerhans cells and M phi isolated from HIV+ twins (CD4+ cell counts of 181, 271, and 562/mm3) were able to present recall Ag normally to HIV-uninfected syngeneic T cells. In summary, APC from HIV+ patients were impaired in their ability to generate a primary immune response (i.e., alloantigen-induced T cell stimulation), but they retained the ability to generate a secondary immune response (i.e., recall Ag-induced syngeneic T cell stimulation). Thus, these findings suggest that defects in secondary immune responses commonly observed in HIV disease are dependent on T cell dysfunction alone, whereas defective primary immune responses may be secondary to both T cell and APC dysfunction.

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