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Clin Exp Immunol. 1996 Jul;105(1):31-8.

Selective CD4+ T cell deletion after specific activation in HIV-infected individuals; protection by anti-CD28 monoclonal antibodies.

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Unité INSERM U167, Institut Pasteur, Lille, France.


AIDS is characterized by a progressive decline in the number of CD4+ T cells. This is preceded by an early selective defect in the proliferation of these cells to recall antigens [1-3], pokeweed mitogen (PWM) [4-6] and to superantigens (SAg) [4,7]. In contrast, the proliferative response to phytohaemagglutinin (PHA) remains intact [1,2,5]. We and others have shown that the proliferative defect in response to some stimuli was in fact due to the induction of cell death [4,7]. The activation-induced cell death mechanism that explains the proliferative defects observed in vitro might also account for the progressive in vivo deletion of CD4+ T cells. Indeed, studies performed on different models of primates have shown that induction of cell death in CD4+ T cells was detected only when T cells were isolated from animals infected with a type of retrovirus that induces an AIDS-like disease [8]. This correlation prompted us to analyse further the mechanism of HIV-induced activation cell death to determine the specificity and rate of induction of cell death. T cells from HIV-infected individuals were activated with superantigens and the V beta T cell receptor (TCR) expression analysed. Data presented here show that cell death is restricted to activated CD4+ T cells, and does not affect bystander cells. More importantly, addition of anti-CD28 MoAb specifically inhibited the induction of apoptosis, raising possibilities for therapy.

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