The inevitable decline of CD4T cells in untreated infection with the Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is due in large part to apoptosis, one type of programmed cell death. There is accumulating evidence that the accelerated apoptosis of CD4T cells in HIV infection is multifactorial, with direct viral cytotoxicity, signaling events triggered by viral proteins and aberrant immune activation adding to normal immune defense mechanisms to contribute to this phenomenon. Current antiviral treatment strategies generally lead to reduced apoptosis, but this approach may come at the cost of preserving latent viral reservoirs. It is the purpose of this review to provide an update on the current understanding of the role and mechanisms of accelerated apoptosis of T cells in the immunopathogenesis of HIV infection, and to highlight potential ways in which this seemingly deleterious process could be harnessed to not just control, but treat HIV infection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Cell Biology
- Cancer Research