T-cell subsets that harbor human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in vivo: implications for HIV pathogenesis.

Human Immunology Section, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.
Journal of Virology (Impact Factor: 4.65). 03/2004; 78(3):1160-8. DOI: 10.1128/JVI.78.3.1160-1168.2004
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Identification of T-cell subsets that are infected in vivo is essential to understanding the pathogenesis of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease; however, this goal has been beset with technical challenges. Here, we used polychromatic flow cytometry to sort multiple T-cell subsets to 99.8% purity, followed by quantitative PCR to quantify HIV gag DNA directly ex vivo. We show that resting memory CD4(+) T cells are the predominantly infected cells but that terminally differentiated memory CD4(+) T cells contain 10-fold fewer copies of HIV DNA. Memory CD8(+) T cells can also be infected upon upregulation of CD4; however, this is infrequent and HIV-specific CD8(+) T cells are not infected preferentially. Naïve CD4(+) T-cell infection is rare and principally confined to those peripheral T cells that have proliferated. Furthermore, the virus is essentially absent from naïve CD8(+) T cells, suggesting that the thymus is not a major source of HIV-infected T cells in the periphery. These data illuminate the underlying mechanisms that distort T-cell homeostasis in HIV infection.

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