The magnitude and breadth of hepatitis C virus-specific CD8+ T cells depend on absolute CD4+ T-cell count in individuals coinfected with HIV-1.
Kim AY., Lauer GM., Ouchi K., Addo MM., Lucas M., Schulze Zur Wiesch J., Timm J., Boczanowski M., Duncan JE., Wurcel AG., Casson D., Chung RT., Draenert R., Klenerman P., Walker BD.
CD8(+) T-cell responses are an essential antiviral host defense in persistent viral infections, and their sustained effectiveness is thought to be critically dependent on CD4(+) T-helper cells. To determine the relationship between HIV-1-induced CD4(+) T-cell depletion and hepatitis C virus (HCV)-specific CD8(+) T-cell responses during viral persistence, we studied 103 persons positive for HCV, 74 coinfected with HIV-1. CD8(+) T-cell responses to the entire HCV polyprotein were determined by using an interferon-gamma enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISpot) assay. Although HIV-1 infection by itself was not associated with a diminished HCV-specific response, HIV-1-associated CD4(+) depletion was associated with significantly lower HCV-specific CD8(+) T cells (R = 0.48, P < .0001). In contrast, declining CD4(+) counts over the same range were not associated with diminished Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)- (R = 0.19, P = .31) or HIV-1-specific (R = -0.13, P = .60) CD8(+) T-cell responses in persons infected with all viruses. These data indicate that frequencies of circulating HCV-specific CD8(+) T-cell responses are sensitive to absolute CD4(+) T-cell counts and provide a possible explanation for the accelerated HCV disease course in persons coinfected with HIV-1 and HCV.