March 27, 2012
New Memory For HIV Patients
The hallmark loss of helper CD4+ T cells during human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection may be a red herring for therapeutics, according to a study published on March 26th in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.
HIV preferentially infects CD4+ T cells, immune cells required to generate protective antibodies. In many people, this leads to a progressive drop in CD4+ T cell numbers–and the more the numbers fall, the faster AIDS develops. HIV-induced cell loss includes both 'naive' CD4+ T cells (those that have never encountered a pathogen) and 'memory' CD4+ T cells (fast-acting cells that 'remember' a previous encounter with a pathogen). Normally, newly generated naive CD4+ T cells can help to replace their lost memory brethren. Thus replacing these naive CD4+ T cells in AIDS patients has become a focus for some anti-viral therapy.
The authors argue that augmenting memory T cells rather than naive ones may provide more benefit. Whether these findings will correspond to human HIV disease remains to be seen.
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