In recent years, CD4 and CD8 T cell responses to HIV and SIV infection have been increasingly measured with the use of single-cell assays such as ELISPOT, MHC-peptide oligomers, and cytokine flow cytometry. The results of these assays have been compared to those obtained with traditional bulk assays such as lymphoproliferation (by 3H-thymidine incorporation) and cytotoxicity (by 51Cr release). Such comparisons have led to some general understanding of the T cell responses that characterize progressive disease, long-term non-progressors, and individuals with viral suppression achieved by anti-retroviral therapy. In addition, prophylactic and therapeutic vaccine trials have also begun to use these assays of T cell immunity to gauge the immunogenicity of the vaccines. Whether such analyses will allow us to pick the best vaccine constructs, and whether they will provide us with an improved understanding of what constitutes protective cellular immunity to HIV, are major questions for the field. These questions will be examined in this review from the standpoint of current data and comparisons to other viral diseases. It is hypothesized that sophisticated multiparametric assays will be required to sort out the factors relevant for protective immunity in this complex disease. These parameters may include functional avidity, epitope breadth and specificity, proliferative capacity, cytokine repertoire, degree of anergy, and differentiation phenotype, as well as magnitude, of HIV-specific CD4 and CD8 T cells.
Keywords: lymphocytes,, AIDS,, immune, protection,, vaccine.
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