Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 17082581
J. Immunol. 2006 Nov;177(10):6685-94
Immunological and virological events that occur during the earliest stages of SIV infection are now considered to have a major impact on subsequent disease progression. In the present study, we demonstrate a clear correlation between progression to AIDS and the rate of in vitro CD4+ (but not CD8+) T cell death in lymph nodes. The dying CD4+ T cells were effector memory T cells, which are critical for the immune response to pathogens. However, there was no correlation between the rate of the viral replication within lymph nodes and the extent of Fas ligand-mediated death, despite the increased sensitivity of CD4+ T cells to death in response to recombinant human Fas ligand. CD4+ T cell death was caspase and apoptosis-inducing factor independent but was clearly associated with mitochondrion damage. Interestingly, higher expression levels of the active form of Bak, a proapoptotic molecule involved in mitochondrial membrane permeabilization, were observed in SIV-infected macaques progressing more rapidly to AIDS. Finally, we demonstrated that the strain of SIV we used requires CCR5 and BOB/GRP15 molecules as coreceptors and caused death of unstimulated noncycling primary CD4+ T cells. Altogether, these results demonstrate that CD4+ T cell death occurring early after SIV infection is a crucial determinant of progression to AIDS and that it is mediated by the intrinsic death pathway.