A detailed understanding of the immune response to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is needed to inform prevention and therapeutic strategies that aim to contain the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) pandemic. The cellular immune response plays a critical role in controlling viral replication during HIV infection and will likely need to be a part of any vaccine approach. The qualitative feature of the cellular response most closely associated with immunological control of HIV infection is CD8(+) T-cell cytotoxic potential, which is responsible for mediating the elimination of infected CD4(+) T cells. Understanding the underlying mechanisms involved in regulating the elicitation and maintenance of this kind of effector response can provide guidance for vaccine design. In this review, we discuss the evidence for CD8(+) T cells as correlates of protection, the means by which their antiviral capacity is evaluated, and transcription factors responsible for their function, or dysfunction, during HIV infection.
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.