Inhibitory potential of subpopulations of CD8+ T cells in HIV-1-infected elite suppressors

Robert W. Buckheit, Maria Salgado, Robert F. Silciano, Joel N. Blankson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Elite controllers or suppressors (ES) are HIV-1-infected individuals who suppress viral replication to clinically undetectable levels without antiretroviral therapy. Understanding the mechanisms by which ES control viral replication may prove informative for the design of a therapeutic vaccine. Qualitative differences in the CD8+ T cell response have been implicated in control. Therefore, we isolated CD+ T cells from ES and characterized the ability of sorted memory and activation subpopulations to control viral replication at various effector-to-target cell ratios using a novel modification of a CD8+ T cell suppression assay. The effector memory and terminal effector subpopulations of memory CD8+ T cells had the highest inhibitory potential over the course of a 3-day in vitro infection. Interestingly, after 5 days of infection, central memory CD8+ T cells were also very effective at suppressing viral replication. No significant correlation between the suppression of viral replication and the number of HIV-1-specific CD8+ T cells was observed. HLA-DR- CD38+ CD8+ T cells possessed the lowest inhibitory potential of the activation subpopulations. Taken together, our data suggest that there are key differences in the magnitude and kinetics of the suppression of HIV-1 replication by different CD8+ T cell subsets. These data should guide the development of an effective, cellular therapeutic vaccine that has the potential to elicit similar CD8+ T cell responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13679-13688
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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