Immunological Abnormalities in Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)-infected Asymptomatic Homosexual Men. HIV Affects the Immune System Before CD4+ T Helper Cell Depletion Occurs

J Clin Invest. 1988 Dec;82(6):1908-14. doi: 10.1172/JCI113809.


To investigate the effect of persistent HIV infection on the immune system, we studied leukocyte functions in 14 asymptomatic homosexual men (CDC group II/III) who were at least two years seropositive, but who still had normal numbers of circulating CD4+ T cells. Compared with age-matched heterosexual men and HIV-negative homosexual men, the CD4+ and CD8+ T cells from seropositive men showed decreased proliferation to anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody and decreased CD4+ T-helper activity on PWM-driven differentiation of normal donor B cells. Monocytes of HIV-infected homosexual men showed decreased accessory function on normal T cell proliferation induced by CD3 monoclonal antibody. The most striking defect in leukocyte functional activities was observed in the B cells of HIV-infected men. B cells of 13 out of 14 seropositive men failed to produce Ig in response to PWM in the presence of adequate allogeneic T-helper activity. These findings suggest that HIV induces severe immunological abnormalities in T cells, B cells, and antigen-presenting cells early in infection before CD4+ T cell numbers start to decline. Impaired immunological function in subclinically HIV-infected patients may have clinical implications for vaccination strategies, in particular the use of live vaccines in groups with a high prevalence of HIV seropositivity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / immunology*
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte / analysis*
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • CD8 Antigens
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Division
  • HIV Seropositivity
  • Homosexuality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • T-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / immunology*


  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte
  • CD8 Antigens