Research ArticleHIV

Delayed differentiation of potent effector CD8+ T cells reducing viremia and reservoir seeding in acute HIV infection

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Science Translational Medicine  15 Feb 2017:
Vol. 9, Issue 377, eaag1809
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aag1809

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Peak HIV viremia pushes CD8+ T cells

Aside from CD4+ T cell death, the immune system in chronically infected HIV patients is dysfunctional, including the inability of CD8+ T cells to control the virus. Animal studies with simian immunodeficiency virus have suggested that early CD8+ T cell responses may be capable of reducing viral burden, but getting access to patient samples at the earliest stage of infection is challenging. Takata et al. examined a large cohort of acutely infected patients that were given antiretroviral therapy (ART) upon enrollment in the study to evaluate T cell activation and HIV viral load over time, allowing them to parse out immune function (or dysfunction) based on acute stages of infection. They saw that CD8+ T cell responses were a little slow to ramp up but that activated CD8+ T cells present after initiation of ART could reduce the magnitude of the viral reservoir. These findings confirm that targeting CD8+ T cells at the early stage of infection could lead to viral eradication.