The influence of lymphocyte counts and disease progression on circulating and inducible anti-HIV-1 cytotoxic T-cell activity in HIV-1-infected subjects

AIDS. 1992 Oct;6(10):1085-94. doi: 10.1097/00002030-199210000-00004.


Objective: To evaluate specific anti-HIV cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) activity in relation to basic clinical and laboratory parameters used to follow HIV infection.

Methods: Lymphocytes from HIV-1-infected subjects with different clinical and immunologic features of HIV infection were tested for circulating and inducible anti-HIV CTL activity using autologous B-lymphoblastoid cells infected with recombinant vaccinia viruses expressing the HIV gag, pol and env genes as targets. Anti-HIV CTL were induced by stimulation with HIV-infected autologous lymphoblasts in vitro.

Results: We detected circulating anti-HIV CTL in asymptomatic subjects exclusively and found a significant association (P < 0.01) between CD8+ lymphocyte counts > or = 900/microliters blood and detectable levels of circulating anti-HIV CTL. Subjects with circulating anti-HIV CTL also had a higher mean CD8+ lymphocyte count than those without detectable circulating activity (P < 0.001), but there was no significant difference in mean CD4+ lymphocyte count. CD8+ human histocompatibility leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I-restricted anti-HIV CTL were induced in all HIV-infected subjects tested following stimulation with HIV-infected autologous lymphoblasts in vitro. In subjects without detectable circulating anti-HIV CTL, circulating HLA-DR+ cells contributed to anti-HIV CTL activity induced by stimulation with HIV or concanavalin A in vitro.

Conclusions: Circulating anti-HIV CTL activity is associated with CD8+ lymphocyte counts > or = 900/microliters. Anti-HIV CTL retain proliferative and functional capacity following in vitro stimulation with HIV and interleukin-2 through all stages of HIV infection. Persistent inducible anti-HIV CTL activity in subjects with advanced HIV disease and without circulating CTL suggests impaired activation and/or proliferation of the CTL in vivo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD8 Antigens / immunology
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic*
  • Genes, MHC Class I
  • HIV Infections / immunology*
  • HIV-1 / immunology*
  • HLA Antigens / immunology
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-2 / pharmacology
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Time Factors


  • CD8 Antigens
  • HLA Antigens
  • Interleukin-2