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Eur J Immunol. 1999 Jan;29(1):38-44.

Altered ex vivo balance between CD28+ and CD28- cells within HIV-specific CD8+ T cells of HIV-seropositive patients.

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Unité 445 INSERM, Institut Cochin de Génétique Moléculaire, Université René Descartes, Paris, France.


The CD8+CD28- cell population in the blood of HIV-infected individuals is considerably expanded. Yet the cause of this expansion is not clear. The recent demonstration of identical TCR-rearranged genes in CD8+CD28+ and CD8+CD28- expanded T cells of HIV-seropositive patients supports the hypothesis that these two subpopulations are phenotypic variants of the same lineage. To further elucidate the precise relationship between them, we measured the fraction of CD28+ and CD28- T cell subsets in IFN-gamma-producing CD8+ T cells by intracellular staining and cytofluorometry as a functional test for ex vivo recognition of epitopes derived from HIV-1, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and influenza virus. HIV-specific CD8+ T cells were predominantly CD28 in all the eight HIV-seropositive subjects tested. In contrast, the anti-EBV and anti-influenza CD8+ T cells were mainly CD28+ in these patients as well as in HIV-seronegative individuals. This supports the notion that the CD8 CD28 hyperlymphocytosis observed in HIV infection is due mainly to chronic activation and differentiation of HIV-specific memory CD8+CD28+ T cells into terminally differentiated CD8+CD28-lymphocytes, because of intense HIV-1 replication and without any important bystander activation. This clarification of the mechanisms underlying the CD8+CD28- expansion in HIV-induced pathogenesis may have important therapeutic implications.

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