Author(s): Jamieson BD, Uittenbogaart CH, Schmid I, Zack JA
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Abstract The mechanism of CD4+ cell loss in lymphoid organs is unknown. In this study, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection of human fetal thymus/liver implants in severe combined immunodeficient mice was used to investigate the mechanism of HIV-induced depletion of CD4-bearing cells in vivo. The implants were assessed for depletion of CD4+ thymocytes, apoptosis, and viral burden. We detected two phases of CD4 cell depletion, an initial rapid phase and a more gradual later phase. Compared to mock-infected implants, HIV-infected implants did not demonstrate detectable increases in the levels of apoptosis while severe depletion of CD4-bearing cells was ongoing. During peak loss of CD4+ cells, high viral burden was observed, suggesting that loss of CD4+ cells in this in vivo system is due to direct killing of infected thymocytes. Increased levels of apoptosis were observed during the later phase of thymocyte depletion; however, these apoptotic cells lacked CD4. This finding suggests that a second indirect mechanism may be responsible for the destruction of CD4- CD8+ thymocytes in vivo. Taken together, these results suggest that CD4+ and CD4- cells may die by different mechanism(s).
This article was published in J Virol
and referenced in Pharmaceutical Regulatory Affairs: Open Access