Patients with HIV infection manifest increased T lymphocyte apoptosis. This study investigated the influence of antiretroviral therapy (ART) upon lymphocyte apoptosis in 23 HIV-infected adults naive to protease inhibitors. Patients were enrolled in a treatment trial consisting of Nelfinavir (NFV), d4T, or NFV + d4T for 24 weeks, followed by triple therapy (NFV + reverse transcriptase inhibitors) for an additional 24 weeks. Spontaneous T cell apoptosis in cultured PBMC decreased by 23.67 ± 18.2% (P < 0.006) at 48 weeks and plasma HIV RNA decreased by 1.79 ± 0.59 log10 RNA copies/ml (P < 0.001). The absolute decrease and slope of T cell apoptosis correlated with plasma virus load and with activated CD8 T cells and was inversely correlated with CD4 T cells. We conclude that reduction in chronic antigenic stimulation and the absence of cellular signals elicited by viral products contribute to the rescue of T lymphocytes from apoptosis, which facilitates immunologic recovery in ART-treated patients.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine