Author(s): Younes SA, YassineDiab B, Dumont AR, Boulassel MR, Grossman Z,
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Abstract CD4+ T cell responses are associated with disease control in chronic viral infections. We analyzed human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-specific responses in ten aviremic and eight viremic patients treated during primary HIV-1 infection and for up to 6 yr thereafter. Using a highly sensitive 5-(and-6)-carboxyfluorescein diacetate-succinimidyl ester-based proliferation assay, we observed that proliferative Gag and Nef peptide-specific CD4+ T cell responses were 30-fold higher in the aviremic patients. Two subsets of HIV-specific memory CD4+ T cells were identified in aviremic patients, CD45RA- CCR7+ central memory cells (Tcm) producing exclusively interleukin (IL)-2, and CD45RA- CCR7- effector memory cells (Tem) that produced both IL-2 and interferon (IFN)-gamma. In contrast, in viremic, therapy-failing patients, we found significant frequencies of Tem that unexpectedly produced exclusively IFN-gamma. Longitudinal analysis of HIV epitope-specific CD4+ T cells revealed that only cells that had the capacity to produce IL-2 persisted as long-term memory cells. In viremic patients the presence of IFN-gamma-producing cells was restricted to periods of elevated viremia. These findings suggest that long-term CD4+ T cell memory depends on IL-2-producing CD4+ T cells and that IFN-gamma only-producing cells are short lived. Our data favor a model whereby competent HIV-specific Tcm continuously arise in small numbers but under persistent antigenemia are rapidly induced to differentiate into IFN-gamma only-producing cells that lack self-renewal capacity.
This article was published in J Exp Med
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Cellular Immunology