It is unclear if HIV-1 variants lose the ability to prime naïve CD8(+) cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) during progressive, untreated infection. We conducted a comprehensive longitudinal analysis of viral evolution and its impact on primary and memory CD8(+) T cell responses pre-seroconversion (SC), post-SC, and during combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). Memory T cell responses targeting autologous virus variants reached a nadir by 8 years post-SC with development of AIDS, followed by a transient enhancement of anti-HIV-1 CTL responses upon initiation of cART. We show broad and high magnitude primary T cell responses to late variants in pre-SC T cells, comparable to primary anti-HIV-1 responses induced in T cells from uninfected persons. Despite evolutionary changes, CD8(+) T cells could still be primed to HIV-1 variants. Hence, vaccination against late, mutated epitopes could be successful in enhancing primary reactivity of T cells for control of the residual reservoir of HIV-1 during cART.
Keywords: Autologous viral variants; HIV-1; Memory T cell responses; Primary T cell responses; cART.
© 2013 Published by Elsevier Inc.