Transition From Long-Term Nonprogression to HIV-1 Disease Associated With Escape From Cellular Immune Control

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Abstract

Summary:

Transition from long-term nonprogressive infection to progressive HIV-1 disease presents an opportunity to investigate pathogenesis in a defined immunogenetic background. We studied a male long-term nonprogressor (LTNP) who remained asymptomatic and viremic and had normal CD4 T-cell counts without antiretroviral therapy for >18 years and then experienced a transition to disease progression. We analyzed the complete HIV-1 genomic RNA sequence from plasma and cellular immune responses to predefined human leukocyte antigen-matched autologous viral peptides spanning the viral genome, before and after progression. Serial viral sequences did not seem attenuated and consistently utilized coreceptor CCR5. LTNP status was associated with elongated V2 domains and broad low-level T-cell immune responses targeting several regions of the viral genome. The transition to progressive disease was associated with the acquisition of viral mutations conferring escape from CD8 T-cell responses. Multiple changes in HIV-1 sequence and loss of immune response over time most likely contributed to the transition from LTNP status to progressive disease. These data are relevant to vaccine design and identification of the correlates of protection from disease progression.

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