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New Study Shows Shortage of Naïve T Cells in HIV-Infected Patients

New Study Shows Shortage of Naïve T Cells in HIV-Infected Patients

STANFORD, Calif--Researchers at Stanford University Medical Center
have found profound shortages of naïve T cells among individuals
infected with HIV. In contrast, previous studies have suggested
that naïve T cells remain stable with the progression of
HIV disease.

"This study forces us to re-evaluate all of the experiments
that have been done in the past 10 to 12 years on T cell function
with cells from HIV patients," said lead investigator Mario
Roederer, PhD.

He believes that the findings should also prompt a rethinking
of some proposed treatment strategies and could lead to improved
means of tracking disease progression in individual patients.

Naïve T cells, so called because they have not yet encountered
an antigen, are responsible for the body's initial response to
infections. Once they encounter their first foreign molecule,
they turn into memory T cells, long-lived cells that protect against
subsequent attacks.

Using a more precise identification method than in previous studies,
the Stanford research team measured naïve T cells in blood
samples from 266 HIV-infected adults with CD4 counts less than
500/mL and from 44 uninfected controls.

The study found that whereas naïve cells represent about
50% of all T cells in healthy adults, they make up less than 10%
in adults with advanced AIDS (J Clin Invest 95:2061-2066, 1995).
The shortfall of naïve cells was seen in both CD4 and CD8
cells.

CD8 Function Compromised

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