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Acute HIV-1 infection depletes CD4(+) T cells in gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT). The failure of containment of local viral replication, and consequent CD4(+) T cell depletion, might be due to delayed mobilization of effector CD8(+) T cells or absence of functioning HIV-1-specific CD8(+) T cell effectors within GALT. No studies have addressed human intestinal HIV-1-specific CD8(+) T cell functions. We sought to determine whether functional HIV-1-specific CTL were present in GALT and whether the repertoire differed from HIV-1-specific CTL isolated from peripheral blood mononuclear cells. From three HIV-1-infected subjects, we isolated HIV-1-specific CD8(+) T cells expressing the mucosal lymphocyte integrin CD103 from GALT. These antigen-specific effector cells could be expanded in vitro and lysed target cells in an MHC class I-restricted manner. HIV-1-specific CTL could be isolated from both duodenal and rectal GALT sites, indicating that CD8(+) effectors were widespread through GALT tissue. The breadth and antigenic specificities of GALT CTL appeared to differ from those in peripheral blood in some cases. In summary, we found HIV-1-specific CD8(+) effector T cells in GALT, despite HIV-1-induced CD4(+) T cell lymphopenia. This suggests that HIV-1-specific CTL in gut tissue can be maintained with limited CD4(+) T cell help.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





317 - 327


Adult, Antigen Presentation, Antigens, CD, CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxicity, Immunologic, Duodenum, HIV Antigens, HIV Infections, HIV-1, Humans, Immunity, Mucosal, Integrin alpha Chains, Male, Middle Aged, Rectum