CD8+ T-cell-mediated suppression of HIV replication in the first year of life: association with lower viral load and favorable early survival

AIDS. 1997 Jan;11(1):F9-13. doi: 10.1097/00002030-199701000-00002.


Objective and design: To study the role and development of non-cytotoxic CD8+ T-cell-mediated suppression of HIV replication in early perinatal HIV infection in a prospective study of vertically infected infants. CD8 T-cell-mediated HIV suppression was measured several times during the first year of life and correlated with viral load, cytotoxic T-cell (CTL) activity, in vitro antibody production (IVAP) and clinical outcome.

Methods: CD8+ T-cell-mediated HIV suppression was measured by comparing the amount of p24 antigen produced by endogenously infected lymphocytes with cultures of the same number of autologous CD4+ T cells from which CD8+ cells were removed immunomagnetically. CD8 viral suppressive activity (VSA) was defined as a > or = 50% reduction in p24 antigen in the cultures containing CD8+ cells.

Results: CD8+ T-cell-mediated HIV VSA was detected in 11/16 infants in the first year of life, including six/nine infants studied before 6 months and as early as 3 weeks of age. Infants who demonstrated CD8 VSA had a lower early peak and 6-month 'setpoint' plasma HIV RNA concentration than infants who lacked CD8 VSA [1.51 versus 4.94 and 0.094 versus 0.639 x 10(6) copies/ml, respectively, and higher CD4 percentage at 1 year of age. Survival of infants lacking CD8 VSA (four/six were rapid progressors) was shorter than for infants who demonstrated CD8 VSA (none out of 10 were rapid progressors). CD8 VSA was present before CTL and before or at the same time as IVAP in two of two and 11 of 14 infants studied, respectively.

Conclusions: CD8+ T-cell-mediated VSA can be demonstrated in a large proportion of HIV-infected infants early in the course of infection. This non-cytolytic HIV-suppressive immune response appears to play an important protective role in the early control of perinatal HIV infection at a time when other immune responses are either absent or deficient.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / virology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Child, Preschool
  • HIV Antibodies / blood
  • HIV Core Protein p24 / analysis
  • HIV Infections / immunology*
  • HIV Infections / mortality
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • HIV-1 / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology
  • Viral Load
  • Virus Replication / immunology*


  • HIV Antibodies
  • HIV Core Protein p24