HIV-1 GP120-mediated immune suppression and lymphocyte destruction in the absence of viral infection.
The magnitude of immunologic defects observed in HIV-1-infected individuals before the development of overt AIDS is disproportionately high in comparison to the levels of infectious virus in these patients--suggesting that factors other than direct virus-induced cytopathology may be involved. With this in mind, we investigated the immunologic consequences of the interaction between purified HIV-1 gp120 and the CD4 molecules expressed by uncommitted as well as Ag-specific lymphocytes. HIV-1 gp120 exhibited a dose-dependent immunosuppressive effect on: 1) Ag-driven proliferation of cloned CD4+ lymphocytes, 2) OKT3-driven proliferation of cloned CD4+ lymphocytes, and 3) cytolytic activity of CD4+, EBV-specific CTL. Thus, HIV-1 gp120 can, in a manner similar to OKT4A antibodies, suppress T cell activation and the expression of cytolytic activities through its interaction with CD4. Additionally, activated CD4+ lymphoblasts can be rendered susceptible to immune cytolysis by virtue of their binding of purified gp120. This "targeting" of activated lymphoblasts can occur with levels of gp120 far below that which is needed to saturate all OKT4A-defined CD4 epitopes. Adsorbed gp120 could be demonstrated on the surface of these cells for up to 12 h, a sufficient time for interaction with host cytolytic elements. The data from these in vitro modeling experiments highlight one of many potential mechanisms of HIV-1 induced immunosuppression and lymphocyte destruction that can occur in the absence of infectious virus and that is based on the unique interaction between HIV-1 gp120 and its cellular receptor, CD4.
Weinhold, KJ; Lyerly, HK; Stanley, SD; Austin, AA; Matthews, TJ; Bolognesi, DP
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