CD8 apoptosis may be a predictor of T cell number normalization after immune reconstitution in HIV

Dorothy E. Lewis, Kimber L. Gross, Martine M. Diez, Maria L. Martinez, Helen N. Lukefahr, Claudia A. Kozinetz, Roberto C. Arduino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: As part of the Houston Vanguard study, a subset of 10 patients randomized to receive IL-2 therapy were compared to 4 patients randomized to not receive IL-2, for markers of T cell activation and death during the first three cycles of IL-2. All patients were treated with combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) and were virally suppressed. The purpose of the study was to examine the role of CD8+ T cell death in responses to ART and IL-2 therapy. Methods: Lymphocytes were examined at Day 0, 5 and 30 days during three cycles of IL-2 therapy. CD25, CD38, HLA-DR expression and annexin (cell death) were examined on CD4 and CD8 subpopulations. Follow up studies examined CD4 levels and CD4:CD8 reconstitution after 6 years using both univariant and multivariate analyses. Results: Human lymphocytes responded to IL-2 therapy by upregulation of CD25 on CD4+ T cells, leading to an increase in CD4 cell counts. CD8+ T cells did not increase CD25 expression, but upregulated activation antigens (CD38 and DR) and had increased death. At baseline, 7 of the 14 patients had high CD8+ T cell apoptosis (mean 17.0% ± 6.0). We did an exploratory analysis of immune status after six years, and found that baseline CD8+ T cell apoptosis was correlated with CD4 cell count gain beginning two years post enrollment. Patients with low levels of CD8+ T cell apoptosis at baseline (mean 2.2% ± 2.1) had significantly higher CD4 cell counts and more normalized CD4:CD8 ratios than patients with high CD8+ T cell apoptosis (mean CD4 cell counts 1,209 ± 164 vs 754 ± 320 cells/mm3; CD4:CD8 ratios 1.55 vs. 0.70, respectively). Conclusion: We postulate that CD8+ T cell apoptosis may reflect inherent activation status, which continues in some patients even though viral replication is suppressed which influences the ability of CD4+ T cells to rebound. Levels of CD8+ T cell apoptosis may therefore be an independent predictor of immune status, which should be shown in a prospective study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9
JournalJournal of Translational Medicine
StatePublished - 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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