Indexed on: 01 Apr '95Published on: 01 Apr '95Published in: AIDS research and human retroviruses
Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) may play an important role in host defense against HIV-1 infection. In this study, we examined the responses of circulating effector CTL (CTLe) specific for Gag, Pol, Env, and Tat in 57 HIV-1-infected men, 49 of whom were asymptomatic and had documented time since seroconversion of < 8 years. CTLe responses to at least one of the four HIV-1 gene products were detected in 83% of the subjects. The magnitude and prevalence of the anti-Tat responses were significantly less than the responses to Gag, Pol, and Env. Cell depletion studies indicated that the lytic activity against the HIV-1 structural proteins was mediated by CD8+ T cells, although 30% of Env-specific lysis was mediated by CD16+ natural killer cells. Anti-HIV-1 CTLe responses against Gag and Pol were significantly less in subjects infected for over 6 years as compared to those infected for shorter periods of time. We found no correlation, however, between anti-HIV-1 CTLe responses and either CD4+ or CD8+ T cell counts, rates of CD4+ T cell loss, HIV-1 infectious viral load, use of antiviral medications, or subsequent progression to AIDS. Our results indicate that anti-HIV-1 CTLe activity is relatively stable in asymptomatic subjects infected < 6 years, and is not an early marker for risk of disease progression.