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J Clin Invest. 1994 Nov;94(5):1947-52.

Quantitative analysis of CD4+ T cell function in the course of human immunodeficiency virus infection. Gradual decline of both naive and memory alloreactive T cells.

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Department of Clinical Viro-Immunology, Central Laboratory of the Netherlands Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service, Amsterdam.


Early in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection CD4+ and CD8+ T cells are qualitatively affected. Loss of responses to recall antigen precedes impaired responses to allogeneic MHC and mitogens. The selective quantitative loss of memory T cells in early infection, only partially explains the observed defects. We investigated whether functional loss of T cells is preferentially observed for memory T cells or whether both naive and memory T cell subsets are affected in the course of HIV infection. We studied the proliferative response of CD4+ T cells from HIV-infected individuals to alloantigens, to which normally both naive and memory T cells respond, by limiting dilution analysis. The decreased proliferative response to alloantigens in HIV-infected individuals was associated with a decreased precursor frequency of alloreactive cells. The frequency was decreased in both the CD45RA+ (naive) and the CD45RO+ (memory) subset of CD4+ T cells. Analysis of four individuals in the course of HIV infection revealed similar kinetics of the decline in function in both subsets. Although initially T cell defects may be accounted for by the selective quantitative loss of memory cells, in later stages of HIV infection the function of both CD45RA+ and CD45RO+ cells is affected.

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