Activation-induced CD4+ T cell death in HIV-positive individuals correlates with Fas susceptibility, CD4+ T cell count, and HIV plasma viral copy number

D. H. Dockrell, A. D. Badley, A. Algeciras-Schimnich, M. Simpson, R. Schut, D. H. Lynch, C. V. Paya

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38 Scopus citations


The relevance of activation-induced cell death (AICD) of CD4+ T cells to AIDS pathogenesis is unknown. The present study investigates the relationship of AICD to a defined molecular mechanism regulating peripheral T cell homeostasis, Fas-mediated apoptosis, and clinical correlates of the pathogenesis of AIDS. Increased pokeweed mitogen (PWM)-induced AICD (22.8 versus 4.4%,p = 0.006) and Fas-mediated apoptosis (27.7 versus 12.0%, p = 0.002) of CD4+ T cells were observed in HIV+ versus HIV- individuals. Similarly, increased PWM-mediated AICD (16.2 versus 2.2%,p < 0.001) and Fas- mediated apoptosis (25.8 versus 7.6%,p = 0.005) were noted in CD8+ T cells from HIV+ versus HIV- individuals. PWM-induced AICD of CD4+ T cells was blocked (83% median specific inhibition) by Fas-blocking antibodies, whereas PWM-induced AICD of CD8+ T cells was Fas independent. Comparison between PWM- and anti-CD3-mediated AICD of CD4+ T cells indicated that PWM- and not CD3-induced AICD is Fas dependent. HIV+ individuals with an HIV RNA copy number of <30,000 copies/ml had lower PWM-induced AICD of CD4+ T cells than did those with an HIV RNA copy number of >30,000 copies/ml (5.7 versus 22.1%, p = 0.034), and PWM-induced AICD inversely correlated with CD4+ T cell count (R = -0.567, p = 0.043). Initiation of HAART decreased PWM-induced CD4+ T cell AICD from 24.4 to 9.4% posttreatment (p = 0.035). These results demonstrate that PWM-induced AICD of CD4+ T cells from HIV+ individuals is mediated by Fas/FasL, parallels the in vivo susceptibility of the CD4+ T cell to Fas-mediated apoptosis, and correlates with clinical markers of AIDS pathogenesis and response to HAART.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1509-1518
Number of pages10
JournalAIDS Research and Human Retroviruses
Issue number17
StatePublished - Nov 20 1999


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases

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