Cell-mediated Immune Response to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Type 1 in Seronegative Homosexual Men With Recent Sexual Exposure to HIV-1

J Infect Dis. 1992 Jun;165(6):1012-9. doi: 10.1093/infdis/165.6.1012.


Although human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) type 1 infection is efficiently transmitted by sexual intercourse, some individuals whose sexual behavior places them at extremely high risk for infection have nevertheless remained HIV-1-seronegative. An investigation was undertaken to determine whether such individuals have circulating T helper cells that are sensitized to HIV-1. Five very high risk men who had recent sexual exposure to HIV-1 were studied. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from all 5 produced interleukin (IL)-2 in culture in response to synthetic amphipathic HIV-1 envelope peptides. One of the 5 high-risk men has subsequently seroconverted, while 4 have remained seronegative. All were initially culture-negative, and those who have remained seronegative were also virus-negative by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing 10 months after they were first studied. These results demonstrate that a cell-mediated immune response to HIV-1 can be detected in the absence of a humoral immune response in individuals recently exposed to HIV-1. Furthermore, IL-2 production by T cells in response to synthetic peptides may be a more sensitive test for exposure to HIV-1 than antibody, lymphoproliferation, or PCR tests.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Base Sequence
  • Cohort Studies
  • DNA, Viral / analysis
  • District of Columbia
  • HIV Antigens / chemistry
  • HIV Antigens / immunology
  • HIV Infections / immunology*
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • HIV-1 / genetics
  • HIV-1 / immunology*
  • Homosexuality*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Interleukin-2 / biosynthesis
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / immunology
  • Los Angeles
  • Male
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oligonucleotide Probes / chemistry
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / immunology*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / transmission
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / immunology*


  • DNA, Viral
  • HIV Antigens
  • Interleukin-2
  • Oligonucleotide Probes