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J Clin Invest. 1997 Jan 15;99(2):257-66.

Priming of human CD4+ antigen-specific T cells to undergo apoptosis by HIV-infected monocytes. A two-step mechanism involving the gp120 molecule.

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Unité mixte Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale U167-CNRS 624, Institut Pasteur, Lille, France.


The study of the pathology of HIV-1 infection in chimpanzees supports the idea of the crucial role of HIV-infected monocytes in the pathogenesis of AIDS, although viral mechanisms that lead to T cell dysfunction and deletion during HIV infection are still unclear. We show here that HIV-1-infected antigen-presenting monocytes (APCs) are able to prime in vitro non-HIV-infected antigen-specific CD4+ T cell lines or peripheral blood CD4+ T cells to undergo apoptosis after antigen-specific restimulation. The priming of T cells for apoptosis occurs in the absence of HIV replication in the T cells. Priming for apoptosis required two concomitant signals present on the same APC, an antigenic stimulus and a second signal provided by the HIV gp120 protein as demonstrated by the use as APCs of EBV-LCLs infected with different recombinant deleted proviruses or transfected with different HIV proteins. These results provide a mechanism for the priming for apoptosis of T cells in HIV-infected patients, implicating a role for HIV-infected APCs in the induction of T cell dysfunction and depletion in AIDS.

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