Author(s): Okoye A, MeierSchellersheim M, Brenchley JM, Hagen SI, Walker JM,
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Abstract Primary simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infections of rhesus macaques result in the dramatic depletion of CD4(+) CCR5(+) effector-memory T (T(EM)) cells from extra-lymphoid effector sites, but in most infections, an increased rate of CD4(+) memory T cell proliferation appears to prevent collapse of effector site CD4(+) T(EM) cell populations and acute-phase AIDS. Eventually, persistent SIV replication results in chronic-phase AIDS, but the responsible mechanisms remain controversial. Here, we demonstrate that in the chronic phase of progressive SIV infection, effector site CD4(+) T(EM) cell populations manifest a slow, continuous decline, and that the degree of this depletion remains a highly significant correlate of late-onset AIDS. We further show that due to persistent immune activation, effector site CD4(+) T(EM) cells are predominantly short-lived, and that their homeostasis is strikingly dependent on the production of new CD4(+) T(EM) cells from central-memory T (T(CM)) cell precursors. The instability of effector site CD4(+) T(EM) cell populations over time was not explained by increasing destruction of these cells, but rather was attributable to progressive reduction in their production, secondary to decreasing numbers of CCR5(-) CD4(+) T(CM) cells. These data suggest that although CD4(+) T(EM) cell depletion is a proximate mechanism of immunodeficiency, the tempo of this depletion and the timing of disease onset are largely determined by destruction, failing production, and gradual decline of CD4(+) T(CM) cells.
This article was published in J Exp Med
and referenced in Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals