New memory for HIV patients

March 26, 2012

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, required to generate protective antibodies. In many people, this leads to a progressive drop in CD4+ 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.

However, by wiping out all naive T cells in monkeys, Louis Picker and colleagues at Oregon Health & Science University found that these cells do little to help combat the virus and delay AIDS, although the overall immune response to virus was dampened in their absence. The loss of naive CD4+ T cells also had no effect on the maintenance of memory CD4+ T cells, whose loss proceeded similarly with or without naive cell replacements.

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.

Explore further: Study finds HIV-specific CD4 cells that control viral levels

More information: Okoye, A., et al. 2012. J. Exp. Med. doi:10.1084/jem.20112071

Related Stories

Study finds HIV-specific CD4 cells that control viral levels

February 29, 2012
A subpopulation of the immune cells targeted by HIV may play an important role in controlling viral loads after initial infection, potentially helping to determine how quickly infection will progress. In the February 29 issue ...

Recommended for you

Scientists divulge latest in HIV prevention

July 25, 2017
A far cry from the 1990s "ABC" campaign promoting abstinence and monogamy as HIV protection, scientists reported on new approaches Tuesday allowing people to have all the safe sex they want.

Girl's HIV infection seems under control without AIDS drugs

July 24, 2017
A South African girl born with the AIDS virus has kept her infection suppressed for more than eight years after stopping anti-HIV medicines—more evidence that early treatment can occasionally cause a long remission that, ...

Meds by monthly injection might revolutionize HIV care (Update)

July 24, 2017
Getting a shot of medication to control HIV every month or two instead of having to take pills every day could transform the way the virus is kept at bay.

Candidate AIDS vaccine passes early test

July 24, 2017
The three-decade-old quest for an AIDS vaccine received a shot of hope Monday when developers announced that a prototype triggered the immune system in an early phase of human trials.

Paris spotlight on latest in AIDS science

July 21, 2017
Some 6,000 HIV experts gather in Paris from Sunday to report advances in AIDS science as fading hopes of finding a cure push research into new fields.

Scientists elicit broadly neutralizing antibodies to HIV in calves

July 20, 2017
Scientists supported by the National Institutes of Health have achieved a significant step forward, eliciting broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) to HIV by immunizing calves. The findings offer insights for HIV vaccine ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.