February 4, 2014
NIH Study Describes New Method For Tracking T Cells In HIV Patients
Researchers use a naturally occurring HIV variant to trace a T cell lineage for 17 years
The study, published in the online issue of AIDS, was conducted by Hiromi Imamichi, Ph.D., H. Clifford Lane, M.D., and others in the Laboratory of Immunoregulation at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health. The cell lineage is part of a subset of CD4+ T cells called "effector memory" (TEM) cells. This distinction is significant because it is currently believed that TEM cells last for only days or weeks. The NIAID investigators demonstrated that this subpopulation of T cells can persist for at least 17 years.
The researchers also observed in the blood cells of patients a higher frequency of defective HIV proviruses than what has been reported in previous work. Although these defective variants cannot produce an infectious virus, many retain the ability to generate small pieces of HIV, leading the researchers to speculate that these "foreign materials" within CD4+ T cells may play a key role in the ongoing immune activation that is characteristic of HIV infection, including in patients with "undetectable" virus in their blood.
On the Net: