Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 17005700
J. Virol. 2006 Oct;80(20):10229-36
The reasons for poor CD4+ T-cell recovery in some human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected subjects despite effective highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) remain unclear. We recently reported that CXCR4-using (X4) HIV-1 could be gradually selected in cellular reservoirs during sustained HAART. Because of the differential expression of HIV-1 coreceptors CCR5 and CXCR4 on distinct T-cell subsets, the residual replication of R5 and X4 viruses could have different impacts on T-cell homeostasis during immune reconstitution on HAART. We examined this hypothesis and the mechanisms of CD4+ T-cell restoration by comparing the virological and immunological features of 15 poor and 15 good immunological responders to HAART. We found a high frequency of X4 viruses in the poor immunological responders. But the levels of intrathymic proliferation of the two groups were similar regardless of whether they were infected by R5 or X4 virus. The frequency of recent thymic emigrants in the poor immunological responders was also similar to that found in the good immunological responders, despite their reduced numbers of naïve CD4+ T cells. Our data, rather, suggest that the naïve T-cell compartment is drained by a high rate of mature naïve cell loss in the periphery due to bystander apoptosis or activation-induced differentiation. X4 viruses could play a role in the depletion of naïve T cells in poor immunological responders to HAART by triggering persistent T-cell activation and bystander apoptosis via gp120-CXCR4 interactions.