Selective increase of activation antigens HLA-DR and CD38 on CD4+ CD45RO+ T lymphocytes during HIV-1 infection

Clin Exp Immunol. 1994 Mar;95(3):436-41. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.1994.tb07015.x.


Infection with HIV results in a progressive depletion of CD4+ T cells and leads to significant in vivo lymphocyte phenotype changes. In this regard, the expression of HLA-DR and CD38 on CD8+ T cells has been shown to increase dramatically with disease progression. We investigated the expression of both activation markers on CD4+ T cells in HIV-1-infected subjects at different clinical stages of infection and compared the in vivo activation of CD4+ T cells with parameters of viral activity and CD8+ T cell activation. Fresh peripheral venous blood was obtained from 54 HIV-infected subjects and from 28 uninfected healthy controls. Three-colour immunophenotyping of the CD4+ T cell subset showed that the proportion of CD4+ T cells expressing HLA-DR (10% in HIV-negative controls) or CD38 (62% in HIV-negative controls) was higher in asymptomatic (P < 0.05 for CD38) and symptomatic (P < 0.001 for HLA-DR and CD38) HIV-infected subjects than in controls, whereas the proportion of CD4+ T cells expressing CD45RO (54% in controls) remained relatively unchanged. Simultaneous expression of HLA-DR and CD38 on CD4+ T cells increased from 2.3% in controls to 11% (P < 0.001) in asymptomatic and 22% (P < 0.001) in symptomatic HIV-infected subjects. This relative increase of CD38 and HLA-DR expression occurred mainly on CD4+ T cells co-expressing CD45RO. Changes in expression of HLA-DR and CD38 on CD4+ T cells correlated with similar changes on CD8+ T lymphocytes, with the presence of HIV antigen in the circulation, and with the disease stage of HIV infection.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • ADP-ribosyl Cyclase
  • ADP-ribosyl Cyclase 1
  • Adult
  • Antigens, CD*
  • Antigens, Differentiation / analysis*
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD8 Antigens
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / immunology*
  • HLA-DR Antigens / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens*
  • Male
  • Membrane Glycoproteins


  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, Differentiation
  • Antiviral Agents
  • CD8 Antigens
  • HLA-DR Antigens
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens
  • ADP-ribosyl Cyclase
  • CD38 protein, human
  • ADP-ribosyl Cyclase 1