Quantitation of HIV-1-Specific Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes and Plasma Load of Viral RNA

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Abstract

Although cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) are thought to be involved in the control of human immunodeficiency virus-type 1 (HIV-1) infection, it has not been possible to demonstrate a direct relation between CTL activity and plasma RNA viral load. Human leukocyte antigen-peptide tetrameric complexes offer a specific means to directly quantitate circulating CTLs ex vivo. With the use of the tetrameric complexes, a significant inverse correlation was observed between HIV-specific CTL frequency and plasma RNA viral load. In contrast, no significant association was detected between the clearance rate of productively infected cells and frequency of HIV-specific CTLs. These data are consistent with a significant role for HIV-specific CTLs in the control of HIV infection and suggest a considerable cytopathic effect of the virus in vivo.

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