Progression of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Disease Is Associated with Increasing Disruptions within the CD4+ T Cell Receptor Repertoire

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The immunodeficiency caused by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection may be related to loss of diversity in the T cell receptor (TCR) repertoire. A cross-sectional study of the CD4 TCR repertoire was done for patients at various stages of HIV infection. Semiquantitative polymerase chain reaction was used to study the relative usage of the variable chain β (BV) subfamilies and the size distributions of transcripts (CDR3 size analysis) within these subfamilies. The relative usage of the TCRBV subfamilies of patients and controls was not significantly different. The proportion of subfamilies with abnormal CDR3 size patterns was higher in the HIV-infected patients (25%, 95% confidence interval [CI], 17%-33%) than in the controls (7.2%, 95% CI, 2.3%-12.1%; P < .001), with a significant negative correlation between the number of CD4 cells and the percentage of abnormal TCRBV subfamilies. These results indicate that progressive loss of CD4 T cells is accompanied by increasing disruptions within the T cell receptor repertoire.

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