Changes in paracrine interleukin-2 requirement, CCR7 expression, frequency, and cytokine secretion of human immunodeficiency virus-specific CD4+ T cells are a consequence of antigen load

John C. Tilton, Marlise R. Luskin, Alison J. Johnson, Maura Manion, Claire W. Hallahan, Julia A. Metcalf, Mary McLaughlin, Richard T. Davey, Mark Connors

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Virus-specific CD4+ T-cell responses are thought to be required for the induction and maintenance of many effective CD8+ T-cell and B-cell immune responses in experimental animals and humans. Although the presence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-specific CD4+ T cells has been documented in patients at all stages of HIV infection, many fundamental questions regarding their frequency and function remain. A 10-color, 12-parameter flow cytometric panel was utilized to examine the frequency, memory phenotype (CD27, CCR7, and CD45RA), and cytokine production (interleukin-2 [IL-2], gamma interferon, and tumor necrosis factor alpha) of CD4+ T cells specific for HIV antigens as well as for adenovirus, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), influenza H1N1 virus, influenza H3N2 virus, cytomegalovirus, varicella-zoster virus (VZV), and tetanus toxoid in normal controls, long-term nonprogressors (LTNP), and HIV-infected patients with progressive disease on or off therapy. The HIV-specific CD4+ T-cell responses in LTNP and patients on therapy were similar in frequency, phenotype, and cytokine production to responses directed against adenovirus, EBV, influenza virus, and VZV. HIV-specific CD4+ T cells from patients off antiretroviral therapy demonstrated a shift towards a CCR7- CD45RA- phenotype and a reduced percentage of IL-2-producing cells. The alterations in cytokine production during HIV viremia were found to be intrinsic to the HIV-specific CD4+ T cells and caused a requirement for IL-2 supplied exogenously for proliferation to occur. These observations suggest that many previously described changes in HIV-specific CD4+ T-cell function and phenotype are a consequence of high levels of antigen in viremic patients. In addition, defects in function and phenotype of HIV-specific CD4+ T cells are not readily discernible in the context of antiretroviral therapy but rather are similar to responses to other viruses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2713-2725
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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