Activation and Cell Cycle Antigens in CD4+ and CD8+ T Cells Correlate with Plasma Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV-1) RNA Level in HIV-1 Infection

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Abstract

The relationship between T cell activation and human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) replication was studied in HIV-infected subjects, 20 with and 10 without anti-HIV treatment. Expression of Ki-67 proliferation-associated antigen was increased in CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and correlated with HLA-DR. In subjects without anti-HIV treatment, the plasma HIV-1 RNA level correlated with HLA-DR in CD4+ T cells, with Ki-67 in CD8+ T cells, and with expression of CD38 in both T cell subsets. A proportion of treated subjects had increased T cell activation despite 4 months of highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART). In subjects receiving HAART, a high percentage of HLA-DR+ CD4+ T cells was associated with signs of opportunistic infections. This work supports the concept that, in the natural course of HIV-1 infection, HIV replication itself leads to general T cell activation and that opportunistic infections generate additional CD4+ T cell activation and HIV replication.

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