CD4 and CD8 T cells with high intracellular glutathione levels are selectively lost as the HIV infection progresses

Int Immunol. 1991 Sep;3(9):933-7. doi: 10.1093/intimm/3.9.933.


Maintenance of intracellular glutathione (GSH) levels has been implicated in blocking cytokine-stimulated HIV replication in vitro, in both acute and latent infection models. We demonstrate here that subsets of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells differ substantially in mean GSH levels, as measured on a cell-by-cell basis with the fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS): B cells have the lowest GSH levels; T cells are intermediate; and monocytes and macrophages have the highest levels. Furthermore, GSH levels subdivide the CD4 and CD8 T cell subsets into two classes each: high- and low-GSH cells, which cannot be distinguished by cell size or by currently known surface markers. Significantly, the high-GSH T cells are selectively depleted early during the HIV infection, and are effectively missing in all ARC and AIDS patients.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • AIDS-Related Complex / immunology
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / chemistry
  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • CD8 Antigens
  • Flow Cytometry / methods
  • Glutathione / metabolism*
  • HIV Infections / immunology*
  • HIV Seropositivity
  • Humans
  • Killer Cells, Natural / chemistry
  • Killer Cells, Natural / metabolism
  • Macrophages / chemistry
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Monocytes / chemistry
  • Monocytes / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*


  • CD8 Antigens
  • Glutathione