The impact of exposure to Ag on the development and maintenance of human CD4+ memory T cells in general and HIV infection in particular is partially understood. In this stedy, we measured HIV-specific CD4+ T cell proliferative responses against HIV proteins and derived peptides one year after highly active antiretroviral therapy initiation in 39 HIV-infected patients who initiated therapy at different times following infection. We show that a brief exposure to HIV of <1 month does not allow the generation of significant detectable frequencies of HIV-specific CD4+ memory T cells. Patients having prolonged cumulative exposure to high viral load due to therapy failures also demonstrated limited HIV-specific CD4+ T cell responses. In contrast, patients exposed to significant levels of virus for periods ranging from 3 to 18 mo showed brisk and broad HIV-specific CD4 + T cell responses 1 year following the onset of therapy intervention. We also demonstrate that the nadir CD4+ T cell count before therapy initiation correlated positively with the breadth and magnitude of these responses. Our findings indicate that the loss of proliferative HIV-specific CD4+ T cell responses is associated with the systemic progression of the disease and that a brief exposure to HIV does not allow the establishment of detectable frequencies of HIV-specific memory CD4+ T cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy