Loss of mucosal CD4 lymphocytes is an early feature of HIV infection

Clin Exp Immunol. 1993 Jun;92(3):448-54. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.1993.tb03419.x.


T cell subsets in the gut mucosa are distinct populations and their imbalance in HIV has specific implications in infection. Alterations in T cell subsets in duodenal biopsies were investigated in 17 asymptomatic HIV patients, 24 AIDS patients and 10 controls with non-ulcer dyspepsia. Immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence using MoAbs to CD3, CD4, CD8, CD68, CD45RA, CD45RO and gp120 were performed on frozen sections. In the lamina propria, there was a significant depletion of CD4+ cells at all stages of HIV, but the density of CD8 lamina propria cells was increased. Intraepithelial lymphocytes were decreased in AIDS patients. There was a significant correlation between cellular density and mucosal CD3+ lymphocytes, and between mucosal CD3+ and CD8+ lymphocytes. Although mucosal CD4,CD45RO+ 'memory' cells were decreased, CD8,CD45RO+ 'memory' cells were increased. Mucosal CD4+ lymphocyte depletion occurred early in HIV, and thus their role in mucosal protection against opportunistic infection should be revised. Mucosal CD8+ lymphocytes initially increased, but decreased when CD4 blood counts were depleted, perhaps contributing to loss of host protection against infection. Intraepithelial lymphocyte depletion may also contribute to opportunistic infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / immunology
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / pathology
  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • CD3 Complex / immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes*
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • HIV Envelope Protein gp120 / immunology
  • HIV Infections / immunology*
  • HIV Infections / pathology
  • HIV-1 / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens / immunology
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • CD3 Complex
  • HIV Envelope Protein gp120
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens