HIV, cytokines and programmed cell death. A subtle interplay.


HIV infection is marked by the progressive destruction of the CD4 T lymphocyte subset, an essential component of the immune system and a vital source of cytokines required for differentiation of natural killer (NK) and gamma delta T cells, for maturation of B lymphocytes into plasmocytes, and for differentiation of CD8+ T cells into virus-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes. CD4 T lymphocytes are also a source of chemokines which control migration of lymphocytes to the site of infection and which also inhibit HIV entry into CD4-expressing targets. Continuous production of viral proteins leads to an unbalanced immune activation and to the triggering of apoptotic programs, turning mononuclear cells, including CD4 T cells, CD8 T cells and APC, into effectors of apoptosis, leading to fratricidal destruction of healthy uninfected cells expressing the death receptors. Inappropriate PCD is also responsible for the disappearance of T helper cells primed for type-1 cytokine synthesis, thus contributing to the lack of survival factors which could prevent spontaneous lymphocyte apoptosis. Under potent anti-retroviral therapies, a significant decrease in spontaneous, TCR- and CD95-induced lymphocyte apoptosis is observed, concomitant with a partial quantitative and qualitative restoration of the immune system in treated patients. However, owing to the suppressive effect of anti-retroviral drugs on physiological apoptosis, these therapies are associated with alteration of TNF-alpha-regulated T cell homeostasis, leading to an accumulation in the blood of T cells primed for TNF-alpha synthesis, and contributing to the development of a new syndrome associated with these treatments, the lipodystrophy syndrome.

Cite this paper

@article{Gougeon2000HIVCA, title={HIV, cytokines and programmed cell death. A subtle interplay.}, author={M L Gougeon and Eric Ledru and Honami Naora and Mr. Carmella Bocchino and Herv{\'e} Lecoeur}, journal={Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences}, year={2000}, volume={926}, pages={30-45} }