This study examines the potential mechanism(s) responsible for the defective clonability of CD8+ T lymphocytes in patients with AIDS. By the combined use of one- and two-color fluorescence cytofluorometry we have shown an increase in the number of circulating DR+ cells due to the expression of DR on a relatively large proportion of T lymphocytes (one-third of CD3+ cells), the majority of them belonging to the CD8+ subset. In addition, the majority of CD8+DR+ cells in AIDS patients did not express CD25 Ag (the receptor for IL-2), a surface marker generally expressed on normal activated T lymphocytes. Sorted CD8+DR+ and CD8+DR- cell populations were analyzed comparatively for their ability to proliferate in response to different stimuli, including anti-CD3, anti-CD2, alone or in combination with anti-CD28 mAb and mitogens such as PHA, alone or in combination with PMA. We have demonstrated that CD8+DR+ cells were severely defective in their proliferative response to triggering via these major pathways of T cell activation even when an exogenous source of IL-2 or IL-4 was added to the microcultures 24 h after initiating the cultures. In contrast, CD8+DR- cells showed a significant proliferation in response to the different stimuli and the proliferative response was strongly enhanced by the addition of IL-2 or IL-4. At the end of the stimulation period CD8+DR+ and CD8+DR- proliferating populations were analyzed for CD25 Ag expression. Only 1 to 10% of CD8+DR+ cells expressed CD25 antigen compared with 40 to 50% of CD8+DR- cells. The proliferative defect of CD8+DR+ cells was further confirmed in experiments performed at the clonal level. The analysis of the frequency of proliferating T lymphocyte-precursors in both CD8+DR+ and CD8+DR- subsets showed that the defective clonogenic potential of CD8+ cells in AIDS patients could be in large part ascribed to CD8+DR+ cells. Five percent of CD8+DR+ cells showed a clonogenic potential compared to the 25% of CD8+DR- cells. Finally, we analyzed the surface expression of VLA-2 Ag, a marker of a chronic state of T cell activation, on circulating T lymphocytes. We have shown that a large proportion of CD3+DR+CD25- cells (50 to 80% in the different patients with AIDS analyzed) expressed VLA-2 Ag.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

This content is only available via PDF.