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For Immunopathol Dis Therap. 2015;6(1-2):55-64.

A Brief Chronicle of CD4 as a Biomarker for HIV/AIDS: A Tribute to the Memory of John L. Fahey.

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Division of Clinical Research, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, United States Department of Health and Human Services, Rockville, MD.
Duke Human Vaccine Institute and Center for HIV/AIDS, Duke University, Durham, NC.
Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL.


Foundational cellular immunology research of the 1960s and 1970s, together with the advent of monoclonal antibodies and flow cytometry, provided the knowledge base and the technological capability that enabled the elucidation of the role of CD4 T cells in HIV infection. Research identifying the sources and magnitude of variation in CD4 measurements, standardized reagents and protocols, and the development of clinical flow cytometers all contributed to the feasibility of widespread CD4 testing. Cohort studies and clinical trials provided the context for establishing the utility of CD4 for prognosis in HIV-infected persons, initial assessment of in vivo antiretroviral drug activity, and as a surrogate marker for clinical outcome in antiretroviral therapeutic trials. Even with sensitive HIV viral load measurement, CD4 cell counting is still utilized in determining antiretroviral therapy eligibility and time to initiate therapy. New point of care technologies are helping both to lower the cost of CD4 testing and enable its use in HIV test and treat programs around the world.


CD4; HIV/AIDS; biomarkers; flow cytometry; immune monitoring

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