CD8+ lymphocyte phenotype and cytokine production in long-term non-progressor and in progressor patients with HIV-1 infection

S. Zanussi, C. Simonelli, M. D'Andrea, C. Caffau, M. Clerici, U. Tirelli, P. De Paoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In most HIV-1-infected patients, clinical and immunological progression develops within a few years. Few infected people, termed long-term non-progressors (LTNP), remain healthy and immunologically stable for a long time. The factors governing the maintenance-of this condition are not well known, but it is conceivable that CD8+ lymphocytes, cells that play a central role in controlling in vitro HIV replication, may have a part in vivo in this process. The aim of this study was to characterize the phenotypic profile and the cytokine production of CD8+ cells in a group of LTNP patients who had stable CD4+ cell counts (>500/mm3) for at least 7 years. Their CD8+ absolute numbers were similar to a control group composed of HIV-1+ patients who have a progressive decline of their CD4+ cell counts. However, mumultiparameter immunofluorescence studies show that a clinical and immunologically stable condition is associated with the presence of a CD28+, CD95 strongly positive CD8+ population, while disease progression is marked by the CD28-CD95+CD8+ subset. Purified CD8+ cells from LTNP retain their ability to produce IL-2, interferon-gamma (IN-γ) and, to a lesser degree, to produce IL-10 and IL-4. In contrast, CD8+ cells from progressors are unable to secrete IL-2 and IL-10. Although CD8+ cytokine profile does not fit with the proposed T helper (Th)1/Th2 switch in progressive HIV infection, LTNP CD8+ T cells maintain their capacity to produce IL-2 and IL-10 (Th0-like), a pattern very similar to that observed in normal HIV healthy controls. We suggest that CD8+ cells expressing CD28, CD95 and having a Th0-like profile may be considered to be associated with long-term survival.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-224
Number of pages5
JournalClinical and Experimental Immunology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1996


  • CD28
  • CD8 lymphocytes
  • CD95
  • HIV-1 non-progression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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